(Reuters/NAN) Indian police on Sunday said six hospital staff arrested on Friday for stealing babies and young children had been charged for selling them to childless couples in illegal adoption racket.
Investigating officer, Ravi Channannavar, said in Chennai that the three men and three women, arrested in southern India, were part of a bigger, organised gang involved in trafficking children.
The suspects worked as nurses and laboratory technicians at five private hospitals and a government-run hospital in Mysuru city.
Channannavar said that the gang targeted poor couples coming to the hospitals to deliver or get an abortion, in which case they convinced them to deliver the child.
He said that they sell the children soon after stealing them.
“In other cases, the gang would steal children from beggars on the streets and sell them for 200,000 rupees ($2,995) in cities like Bengaluru,’’ he said.
Channannavar said investigations had revealed that the group had sold at least 15 children to different childless couples.
“We have rescued three children so far and are looking for the others. There may be many more.
“Statements by the arrested gang members indicate the involvement of a doctor as well,’’ he said.
Channannavar said the six were arrested following a lengthy investigation triggered in April when police received a complaint from a woman who said her two-year-old son had been snatched off the street.
The officer confirmed that crime data released by government in August showed more than 40 per cent of human trafficking cases in 2015 involved children bought, sold and exploited as modern day slaves.
Paul Sundar, Singh of non-profit Karunalaya, which runs a centre for street children in Chennai, described the case as one of the few that had come to light.
He stressed that there were many more unreported cases.
Sundar described stealing children as a big organised crime that police were still struggling to clamp down on across the country.
He pointed out that cases of young children stolen from the pavements of Chennai city earlier the year were still unsolved.