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Activist exposes illegal abortion racket after 16-day sting operation

Mahendra and Vaishali Kanade, who run Kanade Hospital, have been arrested and the police have detained five others for their involvemnet in the case.


Social activist Varsha Deshpande

Varsha Deshpande, founder of Lek Laadki Abhiyan, proved the doctor couple’s involvement in female foeticide through the sting, which took over 16 days to conclude. Deshpande said she contacted the suspects based on a tip-off.  “We sent a four-and-half month pregnant woman and her husband to Kolhapur ST bus stand as decoys along with Rs 17,000 on June 11, from where they were taken by a motorcycle-borne individual to a lodge, where another biker was waiting. The husband was asked to wait at the location and the biker blindfolded the woman, asked her to drape her head with her sari, and took her to a room with a sonography machine where a doctor was waiting,” Deshpande said. 

After the sonography test, the same biker took the woman back to her husband, from whom Rs 17,000 was collected. When money changed hands, the biker informed the couple that the foetus was female. “The biker told the husband that for further observation he would need to make an appointment, as the concerned doctor conducts only five illegal abortions per day,” Deshpande said.

The activist said that she conducted another sting on June 25, but was asked to bring along Rs12,000 this time. “Upon reaching Kolhapur ST stand at 5 pm, we made repeated calls, but they refused to meet. At this stage we decided to seek help from the Municipal Commissioner, health officer and the police,” Deshpande said.

Using the mobile number she contacted the biker following which the police zeroed in on the suspect’s address and thereafter exposed the racket. The equipment used by the doctors even has Silent Observer (SIOB) — a device to enable law-enforcing agencies to monitor sonography machines as a measure to fight growing incidence of female foeticide — installed.

She added that the machines will be analysed and an investigation will follow. “We now have proof and support and will carry out more such sting operations,” she said. Dr Sunanda Naik, acting medical officer of Kolhapur Municipal Corporation said that Kanade Hospital was not registered with the Bombay nursing home or the MTP centre. “We have sealed the sonography machines of three doctors namely T G Mane, Jayashree Swami and Dr Bholte,” Naik said.

Naik added that the three women, who had undergone abortions at the centre, and their husbands are now in police custody. “We are yet to locate the foetuses,” she said. Mahesh Sawant, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kolhapur said that the Kanades and they have been remanded in police custody for two days, while five persons have been detained as no FIR has been lodged against them as of now. 

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