A tearful mother was reunited with her two-month-old baby after the infant was stolen from right under her nose. Shivaji Park police rescued the infant and handed her over to her mother, Geeta Ramesh Sharma, a flower vendor.
Cops hand over the two-month-old Kartika to her mother Geeta Ramesh Sharma after the toddler was stolen from right under her nose. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
In the process, cops also busted a gang of five women who have stolen at least three babies in the past from vendors who live on the streets of the city. The whole racket came to light when cops began investigating the case of Sharma, whose child went missing on the night of February 3.
The five women were arrested by the Shivaji Park police, who believe they have stolen three other babies in the past
Selling flowers outside Dadar station, Sharma said she was sleeping on the pavement near her shop with her baby. However, in the morning, when she awoke, her baby Kartika was missing. “She fed the toddler around 4 am but when she got up from her sleep at 5 am, the baby was not there. She approached the Shivaji Park police station who registered a kidnapping case,” said Dhananjay Kulkarni, deputy commissioner of police, Zone V.
Sharma revealed to cops that she suspected two women Ayeshabi Shaikh and Hazirabi Aziz as the two of them had visited her a few days ago and suggested that she should leave her baby in an ashram. “We learnt that Ayeshabi stayed near Kurla station and started searching her and picked her up from outside Kurla station,” said Deep Bane, sub-inspector from Shivaji Park police station.
She then revealed to the cops that she and Hazirabi had carried out a recee and along with the help of two other women Sunita Shaikh and Rekha Singh had stolen the two-month-old infant and handed her over to Pakija Shaikh, a resident of Shivaji Nagar in Govandi.
The police then rescued the baby from Pakija and handed her to the mother. “It’s a big gang that steals babies from roadside vendors and beggars and sell them out of the state. We are searching for the man, who we suspect is the ringleader,” added Bane.
Demand for baby girls
Police added that the gang used to target baby girls, as there is a huge demand for girls among parents who wish to adopt. They said that since the process of adoption in the state is lengthy and time consuming, a lot of couples were taking shortcuts and buying babies in the black-market. “It is time that couples seeking babies realise that every time they don’t use the proper channels for adoption, another mother’s child is being stolen,” said an officer from the Shivaji Park police station.