Shelters run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity for unwed mothers have come under the radar of Indian police after a nun and a charity worker were arrested in Ranchi on Wednesday for selling a two-month-old baby for $1,760 to a childless couple, news agencies report.
The two may face up to five years in jail and more child trafficking charges as they have admitted to selling four to five babies, Ranchi senior superintendent of police Aneesh Gupta told AFP.
Couples, who have bought babies from the charity, are also under police radar and they will face action, Gupta said. The hospitals where the children were delivered will also be investigated.
Following the confession by the arrested two, the police have shifted 12 pregnant women from the charity to a state-run facility to prevent similar trafficking.
The incident came to light after a childless couple from Uttar Pradesh state complained to Ranchi police that Anima Indwar, a charity worker, allegedly took back a baby boy they had bought from her for $1,760, police officer Aman Kumar told reporters.
The boy born on May 1 in one of the charity’s shelters was sold to them a fortnight later by Indwar. On July 1, Indwar asked the couple to come to the office along with the child to complete some formalities. When they came, Indwar took away the child and did not return the money.
The boy is now in the safe custody of Jharkhand State Child Protection Society which is run by the state’s children’s welfare department.
Arti Kujur, head of the society, said his organisation has received complaints about babies being sold in other homes of the charity as well.
A spokeswoman for the Missionaries of Charity dismissed allegations of child trafficking by saying that they had stopped giving children for adoption three years ago and had never taken money from parents.
But Kumar said police recovered $1,470 from the nun and Indwar after their arrests.