Police dismantle interstate network of child abductors for sale to childless couples

File – File image of children in Calcutta (India). – KOL-Swapan Mahapatra/PTI/dpa

At least 16 people have been arrested as part of a major police operation in several states to dismantle a network of child abductors who then sold the children to childless couples.

Six children have been released since the operation began ten days ago, the last of them on Friday. The children range in age from four to six years old, and some of them had been held captive for more than a year.

The kidnappers, who operated mainly from the state of Maharastra, in the central west of the country, have confessed to kidnapping at least 14 children over the last few months, which they proceeded to sell to couples in various states of the country, according to the superintendent of police of the city of Parbhani, Ragasudha R.

As a rule, the children were abducted outside charitable schools or religious places. During their captivity, the kidnappers made payments to health workers to identify childless couples to convince them to participate in the scheme.

Once the parties had been established, the procedure in all cases consisted first of agreeing with the couples between 80,000 rupees (about 900 euros) and 500,000 rupees (5,600 euros). Once the transaction was closed, the kidnappers proceeded to deliver the child to several »intermediaries» before reaching the hands of the couples.

The police are now trying to discover the whereabouts of the biological parents of the children, a very difficult task because they only depend on the statements of the little ones, as the superintendent acknowledged in a press conference reported by ‘Times of India’.