Almost three years after mid-day’s expose on the baby-selling racket operating from Ulhasnagar, one of the key operators in the network, Ratna Ubale, has resurfaced on the police radar for allegedly operating from Dharavi-based Joshi Nursing Home.
Mukesh and Sunita Lahore had decided to sell their baby to Ubale
According to Titwala-based Sangharsh NGO, Ubale, with the help of two other women , identified as Sunanda More and Babita Hirwe, had struck a deal to sell a baby girl born at the nursing home for Rs 50,000. “The deal was finalised when the mother of the child was six-months pregnant.
Her associates when Sunita was 6 months pregnant
The parents Sunita and Mukesh Lahore who stay in Subhash Tekri in Ulhasnagar, were promised Rs 50,000 for a baby girl and Rs 1 lakh for a baby boy. Ubale and her associates had already paid Rs 12,000 as token money to the couple,” said Santosh Kahrat, secretary of the NGO.
The infant with her mother, Sunita Lahore
In February 2012, a mid-day team had busted a human trafficking racket in which infants were sold like commodities for Rs 2-3 lakh. Following the story, the Hill Line police station in Ulhasnagar had arrested the kingpins of the network Vijaya Sonawne, a government shelter home worker; Ratna Ubale, nurse at a Mulund-based nursing home; and the parents who had sold their baby to our undercover reporters posing as customers. Ubale had been caught on camera in February 2012, selling a baby to mid-day reporters posing as a childless couple.
Staffers from Sangharsh said they received a tip-off last week about the couple planning to sell their baby. The workers took the baby’s father into confidence and he opened up about the money offered by Ubale and her associates for his child. Following this, Sangharsh workers approached the Childline NGO in Kalyan, which began monitoring the operation.
Joshi Nursing Home, Dharavi, where the girl was born. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The Sangharsh NGO team that helped rescue the child
Satish Kamble, a Childline officer, said, “On Tuesday, we came to know that one of the women who was part of this network was supposed to arrive at Sion station in the night. We laid a trap, but the operation failed.”
mid-day’s February 20, 2012, report on the sting operation
Asked about the reasons for the failure, Kamble said, “As the woman arrived at the station we rushed to Matunga police station, but they directed us to Dharavi police. By the time the Dharavi police could respond, the woman had left.”
Finally, a team of Sangharsh workers, accompanied by the Childline officials, barged into the clinic with the Ulhasnagar police in the early hours of Wednesday, and came across some startling facts. “There were two other babies in the clinic but there were no records of their deliveries.
The staff was unable to explain the situation. Finally, the Ulhasnagar cops left the clinic after warning the staff not to discharge the babies until the investigation in the case is through,” said Satish Bansode, another Sangharsh worker.
According to Childline officials, the baby’s father works in a peppermint factory in Ulhasnagar while the mother is a housewife. The couple comes from Uttar Pradesh and has been living in Ulhasnagar for several years.
“Mukesh Lahore had told his neighbours that his wife had gone to her hometown in UP to deliver the child. After the delivery, they planned to lie to the neighbours that the baby had died,” said Vinod Zhende, president of Sangharsh.
Senior Inspector Shivaji Pophale of Central Line police station said, “The baby has been taken into custody and will be produced before the Child Welfare Committee, which will decide the course of action regarding the infant.
Meanwhile, an FIR has been registered under sections 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. The witnesses in the case had given us some names.
We will decide the future course of action as case investigations proceed.” Dr Manlik Joshi, who runs the clinic, refused to comment.