The Mankhurd police recently busted a racket, in which infants were kidnapped and sold, and rescued four such infants. The scheme was run by a gang of six people, who stole toddlers from Mumbai and sold them to childless couples in Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka.
The arrested gang members are Yogita Salle, 21; Asha Thakur, 36; Noorjahan Mullah, 40; and Prabha Naik, 48. On December 5, a toddler named Ahmed Khan went missing while he was playing outside his house in Mankhurd. The parents approached the Mankhurd police station, following which, a case of kidnapping was registered.
The police questioned the family’s relatives, suspecting that one of them was involved. “We learned that Salle had been to Goa. On interrogating her, she lied and said she had been staying with her mother in the city. We showed her evidence of her being in Goa. She then confessed. Salle kidnapped the child, gave him to Mullah and Naik, who then sold the boy to a Goa-based couple,” said an officer with the Mankhurd police station.
Initial investigation revealed that the gang had kidnapped at least eight more infants from Ulhasnagar, Kalyan and Ambernath. Police discovered that Mala Prabhakar Wankhede and Ganesh Salle were also involved and arrested them from Ulhasnagar and Mankhurd respectively.
Senior police inspector Naresh Kasale said, “Mullah and Naik were responsible for finding customers. Mala would steal toddlers from the city and inform Mullah or Naik who would then start looking for customers. The Mankhurd case was the first kidnapping in which Ganesh and his wife Yogita Salle were involved.”
The police said during the transactions, one of the gang members would pose as a relative and claim that the toddler was an orphan, whose expenses he could not afford.
“A childless couple from Goa – a 59-year-old man and his 56-year-old wife – were looking to adopt a child. The accused told them they would sell their child for Rs2.5 lakh,” he added.