Unwed Indian women targeted in ‘black-market baby scam’

Police fear staff at a private hospital in India have been selling babies for as little as 100,000 rupees ($1,500), with agents convincing unmarried mothers to give birth at the facility and then abandon them. They say they have traced five babies born at the now-shuttered Palash Hospital – located just across the road from the government hospital in Gwalior – and sold illegally to couples in different cities. However, investigators fear the total number could be much higher, with hospital records showing more than 700 babies were delivered there in recent years. Experts say stealing and selling babies to couples is not uncommon in India, even directly from hospitals where doctors and nurses are sometimes involved in handing them over to criminal syndicates.

Their agents meticulously went about searching for pregnant woman who wanted to abort but instead were convinced to give birth.

Police superintendent Kumar Prateek

Police were tipped off by a former disgruntled worker, leading to the raid and arrest of two senior hospital officials. Taposh Gupta, hospital director and one of those accused, insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing, pointing the finger at his staff. "I don’t have any knowledge about it. My manager was in control of the administration and I am now hearing some eight to nine months ago they sold one or two babies,“ Gupta told AFP, while in police custody. Investigations so far have discovered that the hospital was getting about 100,000 rupees from childless working and middle class families who were desperate to start a family.

They were unwed woman, vulnerable. And the hospital exploited them, offering them secrecy in return for the newborns.

Kumar Prateek