Police seized 18 human skeletons and detained four as it busted a smuggling racket in Burdwan district (about 90 km to the north-west of Kolkata). The skeletons, all neatly washed and cleaned, were about to be smuggled and sold.
Acting on a tip-off, a team led by sub-divisional police officer, Priyobrata Roy, raided a house in Purbasthali on Sunday. The police seized 18 skeletons, apart from a cache of bones. Rakhi Pal, Yamuna Pal, Mithu Dey and Nakul Choudhury were arrested.
“We suspect that they are part of a statewide racket. The arrested people have been produced in court. We have also seized chemicals that were used to wash the bones,” said a senior police officer. The Court remanded Nakul Choudhury to 10 days in police custody, while others were sent to judicial custody for the same period of time.
According to police, the skeletons were part of a bigger consignment that was being smuggled out of the district. There is a huge demand for skeletons among medical students. The accused were being interrogated to find out more about those involved in the racket and whether they had links to people to Kolkata.
The recovery seems to have put the lid off regular pilferage of skeletons from different locations in Burdwan, Nadia and Murshidabad districts. During interrogation, the district police came to know that a section of staff at different medical colleges in the state used to operate as potential receivers of human remains robbed from cemeteries in the districts.
In 2006, the police seized more than 20 human skulls at Purbasthali after raiding an abandoned house. In April, 2007, as many as 50 skulls, ribs and other parts of human carcasses were seized from various parts of Burdwan which has a sizeable non-Hindu population.