Feb 20, 2012 –Mumbai: In an explosive sting operation that lasted for about a week, MiD DAY blows the lid off a thriving baby-selling racket in the city, in which infants are sold like commodities for Rs. 2-3
Two MiD DAY reporters posed as a couple and approached the syndicate operating out of the innocuous, even respectable, setting of an orphanage for disabled kids in the far suburb of Ulhasnagar. At the end of the seven days, a six-day-old male child was sold to the undercover scribes for Rs. 2.30 lakh, with zero paperwork and no waiting time.
A resort for innumerable childless couples in this city desperate to enjoy the joys of parenthood without the hassle of the long-winded legal adoption process, the orphanage offers many options for the illegal transaction.
The easiest of these is pay the cash and take the child home within a week, bypassing the interminable waits (anywhere over 2 years) and the extensive documentation required to establish your credentials and financial status. All one needs do is produce an identity proof — authenticity no bar — and the alleged racketeers hand over the child along with the birth certificate with your name on it.
The babies are procured from marginalised couples, who perforce or willingly, sell their offspring for a few thousand rupees: the promise of square meals or some extra money is enough to induce the poor women into being exploited and making reproduction their trade. While they get a minimum amount, the few employees abetting the illicit trade pocket a major share of the rewards.
The kingpin of the racket has been supplying newborns to builders, businessmen and other affluent people across the state, deprived of natural parenthood.
Other than the straightforward purchase, the alleged offenders offer the alternative of surrogacy at the price of Rs. 10 lakh. The surrogacy option included choosing to establish sexual contact with
a woman who would then bear the child in her womb, rather than the more traditional IVF (in-vitro fertilisation). For this, the rate card is contingent on the financial standing of the customer, and the demands of the surrogate mother. She may ask that her accommodation and medical expenses be borne till the time she delivers, other than her fee of a couple of lakhs.
After confirming the presence of the syndicate, we decided to ‘buy’ a child to establish the existence of this child trafficking.
The following is an in-depth account of the sting — as narrated by MiD DAY reporters Bhupen Patel and Shubha Shetty-Saha — starting from February 13, when they found out where the racket is taking place, and concluding seven days later with the sale of a baby.