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24 Feb 2017

Seventy babies sold in 10 years, says CID - Kids' pictures with Juhee

Chandana Chakraborty, second right, and Sonali Mondal, second left
TT, Feb. 23: Sources in the Criminal Investigation Department today said Chandana Chakraborty who heads the North Bengal Peoples' Development Centre had illegally sold more than 70 children in the past 10 years.
"During interrogation, she has revealed that she has been into child trafficking for the past 10 years and have sold out over 70 children in the past 10 years. She has also confessed that the babies were sold to customers directly and through agents. They used to carry out the entire process through cellphones and engaged agents to send some babies abroad with their help," a source said.
In the course of the investigation, the sleuths have also found that vulnerable pregnant women were taken to Ashray, a home for destitute women run by Chandana. "After delivery, the woman is told that it is a stillborn baby. They would then prepare necessary documents to validate the illegal trafficking of such babies," the source said.
Later this evening, the CID arrested Chandana's brother Manash who works in the state land and land reforms department. He was accused of helping childless couples in preparing necessary documents to adopt babies from his sister's shelter.
Manash used to be an emcee at government programmes in Jalpaiguri.
As the CID conducted raids on Bimala Sishugriha, the orphanage of Chandana, Ashray and the head office of her NGO, the investigators found documents indicating that 104 babies had been allotted to childless couples from 2010 to 2016.
"There are names of couples, their addresses and other details like the names of the children allotted to each of them. However, we need to find out whether all these 104 children were given to the childless couples in a legal manner or Chandana has sold the babies illegally," an investigator said.
In these documents, there are also application forms of inter-country adoption that was submitted by a French couple, along with photocopies of their passports and some other papers.
During the raids, the CID also found 17 different photographs of children who were kept at Chandana's home. The photos were found in a bag seized from the house of Juhee Chowdhury in Mainaguri. Juhee is a leader of the BJP and an accused in the case. She has gone into hiding and the CID is in search of her.
"If Juhee has simply tried to help Chandana get some assistance and permissions from a central ministry as claimed by her father, why had she kept photographs of the infants of Chandana's home? This is something which has substantiated our doubt that she is closely involved in the child trafficking racket," a CID official said.
In Siliguri, Anurag Srivastava, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, said the administration had started checking the whereabouts of children who had been sent to Jalpaiguri by the Child Welfare Committee in Darjeeling.
He further mentioned that in Darjeeling district, there were a number of homes where orphans were kept. "Some of these homes are not registered with the state government. We are keeping pressure on them for registration. If they do not get registered, they will have to eventually close down the facilities," the district magistrate said.
In another development, sources said Subodh Bhattacharya, a member of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Jalpaiguri, had been called by the CID to Pintail Village, located on the outskirts of Siliguri where the agency has its office, for questioning.
Dipti Ghosh, the superintendent of Ashray, has also been called for questioning, sources said.
A diagnostic unit on Beliaghata Main Road in the eastern part of Calcutta came under the scanner of the CID in connection with the illegal baby-sale racket active in Jalpaiguri.
"The diagnostic centre is owned by Rajarshi, son of Chandana. The unit, located on the ground-floor of a building, has been operating for the past four years," said a CID officer.
Sleuths of the investigating agency suspect the clinic was used to cater to the couples based in Calcutta.
"We have come across information that infants used to be brought to the diagnostic centre and kept there for a few days before handing them over to childless couples," said the officer.

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