A Sting operation conducted over a period of 16 days in Kolhapur by activist Varsha Deshpande that led to the arrest of a doctor couple for illegal sex determination and abortions has revealed one more incident of female foeticide.
The new case to surface is from Khandala taluka in Satara district, where a seven-month-old case of female foeticide came to light after one of the arrested agents in the Kolhapur case revealed that a multi-city network of agents was involved in the racket.
“After the Kolhapur agents were arrested, police investigations as well as our network of informers revealed that the racket was spread across many districts and that is how we tracked this new case of female foeticide,” Deshpande said. “Even more shocking is the fact that the couple who opted for abortion have two daughters, and one of them recently stood first in the Maharashtra Scholarship Scheme.”
Deshpande’s NGO has carried out over 36 sting operations across the state to expose errant doctors. One of the agents caught in the Kolhapur sting, Nikhil Chavan, said that he had customers from different districts and disclosed a particular case from Khandala in which his maternal uncle was also involved.
Chavan’s uncle Shashikant Mohite is a teacher in a Zilla Parishad school. His school colleague Ravindra Talekar wanted his four-month pregnant wife to undergo a sex determination test. Talekar spoke to Mohite, who advised him to contact Chavan in Kolhapur.
On reaching Kolhapur with his wife Smita, Talekar on November 26 was received by Chavan and another agent, Raju Patil. The couple was taken to Dr Jayshree Swami, who conducted the sonography and charged Rs 7,000 for it.
The doctor did not declare the sex of the child to the couple, but asked them to contact Patil again. Patil told them that it was a girl child and took Rs 9,000 from them. He said that for an abortion they would have to take an appointment and asked them to get in touch with him later.
On going back to Khandala, the couple visited the rural hospital of Ahire, a village 12 km from Khandala. The health officer of the village, Dr Khalil Tamboli, asked them to visit his private hospital in Khandala.
On December 1, Talekar underwent abortion and the foetus was given to her in a plastic bag, which she disposed of on her parents’ farm.
As the links came to light, the Khandala police questioned the Talekars, Mohite and Tamboli and they confessed to the crime.
The police arrested Mohite and Tamboli under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act. They were produced in court yesterday and remanded in police custody till July 6.
“We have arrested the teacher who acted as an agent and Dr Tamboli, who has indulged in such a heinous crime despite being a government employee,” Senior Police Inspector Sridhar Jadhav of the Khandala police station said. “We have also sent the soil sample of the area where the foetus was buried to a forensic laboratory as we could not arrest Talekar because of lack of evidence.”