Vijaya Sonawane, 48, the cook with the social welfare department who had allegedly sold a baby from the orphanage to a childless couple recently, her accomplice, Ratna Obale, and Pradhan and Babli Kanojia, who sold their baby for Rs 2.3 lakh, were arrested on Thursday evening.
DCP Dr Shivajirao Rathod said, “We have arrested all those involved in the racket. We also have three teams that will continue to work on the case.”
On Wednesday, the social welfare department had issued a 24-hour notice to Sonawane to vacate the department quarters.
On Thursday, Sonawane was seen loading her belongings into a tempo after she had vacated the quarters. When she spotted the reporter, she began to cry loudly, warning the reporter against taking any photographs. She even threatened to commit suicide if pictures were taken and said she would name in her suicide note all those who had ‘landed’ her in this situation. However, 10 minutes later, she calmed down and started to tell her story.
She said until a few days ago she had been working as a cook and earning Rs 25,000. She said one Umesh Sonawane [the tabloid reporter, who had changed his name when he met the woman] and his wife came to her and told her that they were from Nashik, which is Vijaya Sonawane’s native place, and that they had no child despite being married for many years.
“So, I spoke to the north Indian couple Pradhan and Babli Kanojia with the help of Ratna Obale. The family is very poor and they have five children. They readily agreed to part with their newborn, happy that the child would go to a good family,” Sonawane said.
She said she was taking the advice of an advocate and would file an application in the Ulhasnagar court for anticipatory bail. “I have not taken a single penny of the amount given to the Kanojias,” she said.