Mumbai Crime: Two years on, cops arrest baby-selling racket's kingpin

Ratna Ubale, who would buy babies from couples and sell them at a premium, was arrested on Tuesday, less than a month after two doctors involved in the case were picked up by the Central Line police in Ulhasnagar

More than two years after mid-day exposed a baby-selling racket, the Central Line police in Ulhasnagar made an important breakthrough on Tuesday afternoon by arresting the racket’s mastermind Ratna Ubale, who was allegedly responsible for procuring the babies.

In the net: Ratna Ubale
In the net: Ratna Ubale

Ubale, whose name had first come to light following mid-day’s sting operation in 2012, had resurfaced on the police radar last month after allegedly buying a baby girl from an Ulhasnagar-based couple for Rs 50,000. Days later, the police had arrested Dr Maulik Joshi of Joshi Nursing home in Dharavi, Dr Digna Sharma, who runs a clinic in Charkop, Kandivli, and the baby’s parents, Sunita and Mukesh Lahore, in connection with the case on December 20. All the accused are currently in judicial custody.

 



Officials said that Sharma’s husband, Ajay, who was initially picked up by for interrogations by the local police, had been set free due to lack of evidence.   

The Central Line police had laid a trap for Ubale at the Chopra court in Ulhasnagar, where she used to appear for the case filed after mid-day’s expose. Ubale, who had already missed one hearing on January 8, arrived at the court on Tuesday to submit her medical certificate seeking exemption from appearance.

“She had covered her face with a scarf to hide her identity. The court clerk, who spotted Ubale, alerted the team waiting for her outside the court and she was arrested,” said Inspector Pandhare of Central Line police station.

On Wednesday, Ubale was produced in the same court in connection with the recent baby-selling case and she was remanded in police custody till January 21.

“The doctors and Ubale are playing a blame game. They have been naming each other the kingpins of the racket. Ubale is a tough nut to crack. Since we have got her custody, we will interrogate her to get the facts out of her,” added Pandhare.

Workers of the Titwala-based-NGO, Sangharsh, approached the Central Line police recently and informing them that the baby-selling racket was continuing to flourish in Ulhasnagar and its adjoining areas.   
The workers, with the help of the local police, laid a trap in Joshi Nursing Home in Dharavi to catch the baby-sellers red-handed last month, but one of the accused gave the police team the slip and the operation failed.

Cops began investigations with the available evidence and arrested doctors Sharma and Joshi in the case. The cops also suspected the involvement of Sharma’s husband, Ajay, and he was picked up for questioning.

“Ajay’s involvement was ruled out during the course of investigations. We got to know that the couple was on the verge of separation and there was no evidence against him,” an officer from Central Line police station said.

Evidence destroyed?

The Central Line police found that the doctors, who had come to know that the police were on their trail, deleted all the crucial data on their phones before their arrest. “While browsing through their phone history, we found that several photographs of the babies had been deleted by the doctors. We have sent all the phones for forensic analysis and are considering charging the accused for destroying evidence,” said an official from the Central Line police station.

“The doctors have not cooperated with the investigations till date. All this while, they have blamed Ubale, alleging that she is the kingpin. With Ubale’s arrest, things will become clearer,” he added.

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