Bought in villages, sold in cities
Maharashtra: Touts of adoption agencies love to tour villages in Maharashtra. Here babies from poor families and from unwed mothers can be bought cheap and then sold at adoption homes as orphans.
"In rural areas in particular, the percentage of this happening is quite high. Babies can be found in certain villages in the eight districts of Marathwada and Jalgaon," says Chairman Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Aurangabad, Dr Wankhede.
The CWC in Aurangabad gets approximately 40 abandoned children annually.
CWC member from Solapur Devayani Tumma often gets calls from adoption agencies making a sales pitch for abandoned children. Adoption agencies call us and tell us to send the babies to their institutions,â€ she says.
However, social workers from adoption homes often bypass the committee and go scouting for couples willing to sell children.
"Every where people are scouting around for children. Those found abandoned or orphaned by CWC are always a great option for adoption agencies. People try to get children because they find adoption is a very lucrative business prospect," says Chairperson Adoption Coordinating Agencies (ACA) Pune, Nishita Shah.
Police stations have been known to dispatch abandoned children to certain favored adoption agencies, including Preet Mandir in Pune. CNN-IBN had in an earlier report exposed that Preet Mandir sells babies to foreigners.
"The police are hand in glove with certain agencies. Certain police stations in many regions send abandoned babies to certain agencies," says Dr Wankhede.
In fact, the Central Governments Central Adoption Resource knows that children are being handed to Preet Mandir from Juvenile Welfare Boards in Maharashtra but has not bothered to check this malpractice.
What is more shocking is the fact that the Maharashtra government has handed over management of the state-run Shishu Sadan at Aurangabad to Preet Mandir.
This has allowed for a free transfer of children who are often not orphans or abandoned from Shishu Sadan to Preet Mandir.
What's more, a letter from the Commissioner, Women and Child Welfare Department, Pune authorised the transfer of children from Shishu Sadan to Preet Mandir.
One such child was six-year-old Tabassum, who had a family, but was forcibly made free for adoption by Preet Mandir.
Many of Preet Mandir's children are also sourced from an ashram in Pandharpur Navrange Balakashram often within 24 hours of being brought to the ashram.
"Children from Navrange would be transferred to Preet Mandir within one day of being at the ashram. I realised this when I became a CWC member. Since there are just three members, these touts quickly produce the babies before them, take their signature and child is in. I asked why are you sending only to Preet Mandir? I've complained to the highest levels," says Devyani Tumma.
CNN-IBN also discovered that the Government Hospital in Aurangabad is part of the racket. A nurse at the hospital told CNN-IBN that many babies from the hospital are sent to Preet Mandir.
The CNN-IBN Special Investigation Team examined the documents of a child named Akshay.
The certificate says Akshay was found on October 8, 2004, but his photo appeared in a local paper on July 14 and a June-3 police certificate says the child's parents canâ€™t be traced. All the dates are fake.
"This just means the child was found in October and three months before that, his photo came in the paper and four months before that the police gave a certificate. This is totally wrong. Our members should have checked before signing. This is an important document. Only after this can a child be given away for adoption," says Devyani.
(With inputs from V K Shashikumar, Anjita Roychaudhury and Parul Malik