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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Prime accused in cross-country child-selling racket gets bail

Salunkhe was arrested on July 1, along with Bhagyashree Koli, 26; Asha alias Lalita Joseph, 35, and Sunanda Masane, for allegedly buying babies and then selling them. Fourteen people have been arrested so far in the case, including parents who bought children.

mumbai Updated: Aug 15, 2019 02:28 IST
Pratik Salunke
Pratik Salunke
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Savita Salunkhe, 30, one of the main accused in the child-selling racket busted by the crime branch in July, was recently granted bail by a sessions court.
Savita Salunkhe, 30, one of the main accused in the child-selling racket busted by the crime branch in July, was recently granted bail by a sessions court.
         

Savita Salunkhe, 30, one of the main accused in the child-selling racket busted by the crime branch in July, was recently granted bail by a sessions court.

Salunkhe was arrested on July 1, along with Bhagyashree Koli, 26; Asha alias Lalita Joseph, 35, and Sunanda Masane, for allegedly buying babies and then selling them. Fourteen people have been arrested so far in the case, including parents who bought children.

Salunkhe was granted bail on August 9 and is likely to be released from jail this week. Police said Salunkhe is accused of selling at least four children, including a six-month-old baby in Delhi, whose biological parents are yet to be traced, and another infant in Bhiwandi. They said the bail is a setback for the crime branch as the other accused, too, are likely to push for bail.

“Salunkhe is already an undertrial in a similar case registered in Kandivli, in which three women are accused,” said an officer. “However, getting bail does not mean she has been acquitted,” he said.

Salunkhe was earlier arrested by the Kandivli police in 2016 for kidnapping a baby but was later released on bail. A private security guard at a state-run hospital in Govandi, Salunkhe was stationed outside the first-floor nursing home which caters to the slums of Govandi, Mankhurd, Trombay and Chembur.

According to officers, the accused women were earlier surrogate mothers or nurses. This helped them target childless couples wanting newborns or a boy child. “They used to tell expecting mothers that it would be a legal adoption for which they would be paid and be allowed to meet their children,” said another officer.

However, advocate Anil Kamble, who represented Salunkhe, said the babies were “taken for adoption”. “The accused lacked knowledge of the process which has been termed as exploitation by the police,” said Kamble.

Meanwhile, the six baby boys who were rescued have been moved to a specialised adoption agency in Chembur as per orders of the Child Welfare Committee. “They are doing well. They are being taken care of medically,” said an official from the agency.

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 23:05 IST

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