Infants are being sold in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar and trafficked to other states, including Punjab and Uttarakhand.
This startling revelation came to light on Friday night when Hindustan Times, in coordination with local human rights activist Harmeet Kaur Brar and Punjab Police, conducted a sting operation and caught a midwife selling a one-month-old male infant for R6.5 lakh in Patiala to a decoy customer, posing as a childless NRI woman.
The infant was brought from Muzaffarnagar by Usha (50), the kingpin of the racket, in a white Tata Indigo taxi and handed over to Brar (36), a lawyer and human rights activist who was part of the sting operation. Brar was posing as a US-based non-resident Indian (NRI) and as per plan Usha was trapped outside Moti Bagh Gurdwara in the heart of Patiala.
SOLD THRICE IN A MONTH
As the infant snuggled in Brar's arms for warmth, Usha was questioned and it emerged that he had been sold three times already. Usha told the police that she had bought the baby from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh for R1.3 lakh and had undertaken a nine-hour journey to Patiala to sell the child for R6.5 lakh.
The police are investigating the racket, which, they believe, could involve people selling children in the riot-hit Uttar Pradesh town.
During questioning, Usha said the infant's parents, who she claims she doesn't know, sold him for R50,000 to a woman called Madhu. It was Madhu who sold the child to Usha for R1.3 lakh on Friday morning.
"This child has been brought with the consent of his parents from Muzaffarnagar. One of my partners Madhu, who is active in Uttar Pradesh, sold him to me," Usha, who initially introduced herself as Taranpreet Kaur, told Brar.
After a settlement was reached, Usha informed Brar on Friday morning that she had taken "delivery" of the baby boy and would be reaching Patiala by Friday night. She said Brar should reach the parking of Gurdwara Moti Bagh and collect the infant. A trap was laid and just as she was handing over the baby to Brar at 10pm on Friday, assistant sub inspector Simarjit Singh and another policeman in civvies caught her red-handed. After arresting Usha, the police nabbed the taxi driver.
The infant was taken to Rajindra Medical College and Hospital and was stated to be in a stable condition.
WAS OUT ON BAIL
Later, SSP Hardial Singh Mann, said, "This is a deep-rooted network. The woman (Usha) has admitted to selling more children. A police team has been despatched to arrest Madhu and her accomplices, who are suspected to be in Uttarakhand."
Usha, who goes by one name, is out on bail in a similar case of child trafficking. Mann said she hails from Pawan Nagar on Batala Road in Amritsar and had been arrested in 2011 by the Ludhiana police for selling a child at Mullanpur Dakha in Ludhiana district.
A case has been registered against her under Sections 363 (abduction) and 34 (crime done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.