Investigators have identified a Maharashtra-based middleman in the child trafficking racket that was busted on Monday.
The lid was blown off the racket with the arrest of Govandi resident Yogita Saale (21), who allegedly kidnapped her relative’s one-and-a-half-year-old son and sold him to a child trafficking ring in Goa. The police went on to arrest Asha Thakur (36), Noorjehan Mulla (40) and Prabhavati Naik (48) from Phonda in Goa, who allegedly bought the boy for Rs. 2.5 lakh.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Shahaji Umap, Zone VI, said, “We are on the lookout for a man identified only as Rajiv till now, who is based either in Pune or in Ahmednagar. It was this man who introduced Asha, who is from Titwala in the Thane district, to the other two accused. Further inquiries into this aspect are under way.” Investigations have also revealed that it was Asha who offered to arrange the exchange for Yogita.
An officer with the Mankhurd police said, “Asha was aware that Yogita was in serious need of money and told her that she could get a handsome amount if she kidnapped a child and brought him to Goa. She then put Yogita in touch with the other two women, after which a deal was finalised. Yogita was to kidnap a child at her own risk and deliver him to Goa, where someone would be waiting to receive her.”
The police suspect that the Goa-based gang intended to sell the victim, Ahmed Khan, into a begging racket either in Goa or some other city. As Asha hails from Maharashtra, Noorjehan from Goa and Prabhavati from Karnataka, the police have not disregarded the possibility of the racket reaching into other States in the country.
Officials said there could be more people involved in the racket. The accused are being interrogated to find out the finer details about the gang’s modus operandi.
Mr. Umap added, “All the four arrested accused were produced in court on Tuesday and have been remanded to our custody for four days.”
The police on Tuesday evening made two more arrests in the case. Mr. Umap said Yogita’s husband Ganesh (27) had been arrested along with a lady from Ulhasnagar identified as Mala Wankhede (40).
Mr. Umap said, “Ganesh was in touch with Yogita and Asha when they were taking the victim to Goa. Mala was found to have been in touch with Asha. We have formed multiple teams to ensure speedy investigation.”