NEW DELHI, Nov 24 (Reuters): Eleven people have been arrested in India on suspicion of duping single women into selling their newborn babies and trafficking the infants inside biscuit containers to an adoption centre to be sold on to childless couples, police said on Wednesday.
A senior official from Crime Investigation Department (CID) in West Bengal said the arrests began on Monday after police raided a private nursing home and found two babies hidden in cardboard boxes in a locked medical storeroom.
Those arrested included the owner, midwives and other staff at the nursing home in Baduria, 80 km from Kolkata.
Police have also arrested court clerks suspected of making fake documentation for the children and the head of a charity which ran the adoption centre.
"The inquiry is underway and more information will be revealed only after some more progress is made," Bharat Lal Meena, Deputy Inspector General for the CID in West Bengal, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Staff at the nursing home and the charity were not immediately available for comment.
Police said initial investigations indicated that unmarried girls and women who visited the clinic for an abortion were persuaded by staff to give birth and sell their babies.
The police did not give a price, but local news reports said the mothers were given 300,000 rupees ($4,380) for a boy and 100,000 rupees ($1,460) for a girl.
Babies were also stolen from women who delivered at the clinic, but who were told by staff that their children were stillborn. Some were even shown the bodies of stillborn babies preserved by the clinic to dupe parents, police said.
The babies, mostly newborns, were then smuggled in cartons used to store biscuits, and taken by road to an adoption centre 25 km away in Machlandapur, where they were sold on to childless couples.