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Mumbai child trafficking case: Kingpin sold his own & sister-in-law’s babies

Updated on: 27 November,2023 06:42 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Faizan Khan |

Balkrishna Kamble, 33, was emboldened to spawn racket of his own after he acted as a middleman in the sale of a child four years ago in Virar

Mumbai child trafficking case: Kingpin sold his own & sister-in-law’s babies

The Crime Branch Unit IX arrested seven people along with Balkrishna Kamble

The recent discovery of a sprawling child trafficking ring by the Mumbai Crime Branch has revealed that an accused, Balkrishna Kamble, 33, who appears to be a pivotal figure, sold his own two children, and one child each of his sister and his sister-in-law. Implicated in a previous case of child trafficking around four years ago in Virar where he acted as a middleman, Kamble told investigators that the incident encouraged him to get further involved in child trafficking amid the lack of other employment opportunities. 

The child trafficking racket appears to have served people seeking to buy newborns in lieu of legal adoption. Investigations led by Crime Branch Unit IX’s senior Police Inspector (PI) Daya Nayak revealed that before she married him, Kamble’s wife and her ex-boyfriend were also involved in the sale of a child. Kamble was not connected to that sale.

Balkrishna KambleBalkrishna Kamble

According to the probe, the sprawling child trafficking network has probably sold at least three dozen infants. A list of around 20 trafficked children has been compiled by the Crime Branch, and efforts are underway to identify and transfer them to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).

According to sources in the Crime Branch, the gang may have targeted financially vulnerable women, preventing them from seeking hospital care during childbirth. Kamble was responsible for facilitating home deliveries, which contributed to the absence of government records. “We are working on all aspects of the case which we suspect has well-established, deep roots,” said Nayak.

An Andheri family suddenly having a third child prompted the police to probe and led them to the trafficking network. Representation picAn Andheri family suddenly having a third child prompted the police to probe and led them to the trafficking network. Representation pic

Another person who played a key role in the ring is Shafique Shaikh, 45, a resident of Virar and an autorickshaw driver. Shaikh used to gather contacts of people in need of newborns and connect them with people ready to sell their babies. According to Crime Branch sleuths, Shaikh played a crucial role in the sale of at least four children.

Accused Vaishali Pagharia, 45, a resident of Byculla, was involved in the sale of four babies, and another woman, Usha Anil Rathod, 42, was involved in the sale of at least one baby.

The Crime Branch found a list of 18 children with Pagharia, suggesting that the children were given to financially secure families from other states. Some of the children would have grown up now, and would be completely unaware that they were adopted in an illegal manner. “We are exploring all legal aspects to rescue the children and we will go by the book,” said a Crime Branch officer.

How was racket busted?

The dismantling of the child trafficking ring began when Unit IX learned about Shakil Makrani, an Andheri West resident, who had a third child. The baby was, however, not borne by his wife.

Investigations led the police to Sania Khan, 26, and her husband Shabbir Khan, 28, from Bandra East. The couple had sold the baby to sustain their drug use. Subsequently, Makrani, Sania and Shabbir, Rathod, Pagharia, and another woman, Manikamma Narsappa, 63, were arrested.

Expanding the probe, the police found that the accused had links to Shaikh and Kamble, leading to their arrests. What commenced as an investigation into a single case has now extended to the cases of at least 20 trafficked babies.

Raids on Sunday

Police suspect that the overall number could surpass 50 as raids in Chiplun and Virar resulted in additional detentions on Sunday and revealed that around 10 babies were sold by the accused. The Crime Branch apprehended eight individuals — four men and four women — during the raids and two more were detained on Sunday evening.

“Two more suspects have been apprehended in Virar and Chiplun as part of ongoing operations. A comprehensive verification process is underway to ascertain the extent of child trafficking conducted by them,” said Raj Tilak Roushan, deputy commissioner of police, Crime Branch.

Approx. babies sold by first 8 accused

Approx. babies sold by people held on Sunday

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