In a macabre development, the police have dug up a "graveyard" of illegally-aborted foetuses in the compound of a private maternity hospital in Arvi town of Maharashtra's Wardha district, pointing to a massive racket of secret unauthorised abortions, officials said here.
The mortifying revelations came up during the investigations of an illegal abortion of a 13-year-old girl, who became pregnant after an alleged affair with a 17-year-old boy living in the vicinity.
The probe led the police to the premises of the private Kadam Hospital where a dozen skulls and over four dozen bones of illegally aborted foetuses were found buried in a biogas plant.
Police also recovered stained clothes, bags, some spades used for digging and dumped there and other evidence which have been collected and sent for forensic analysis.
According to a team of woman Investigation Officers, Assistant Police Inspector Vandana Sonune and Police Sub-Inspector Jyotsna, the Arvi police had received a tip-off on the January 4 incident but without any names.
The team got cracking with local sources and finally tracked down the minor girl and confronted her parents who were threatened against speaking out by the boy's family.
"We gently counselled them, assured that they will be given full protection and finally, they opened up, and even agreed to lodge the first information report on January 9, five days after the girl underwent the secret, illegal abortion," API Sonune told IANS.
Armed with the complaint, a police team swooped on the Kadam Hospital and arrested its Director, Dr Rekha Niraj Kadam, 43, and nurse Sangeet Kale, 38, who helped in the act and charged Rs.30,000.
The police also nabbed the boy's parents - Krishna Sahare, 42, and his wife Nallu, 40 - for compelling the minor girl to undergo the abortion and intimidating her family with dire consequences if they spoke about it.
While the four accused were remanded to police custody for two days this week, the investigations led them to the biogas plant and its vicinity where the veritable 'graveyard' with buried foetuses was unearthed.
"This is extremely serious.... we suspect there may be bigger ramificationsa We are probing the case from all angles, the involvement of others, doctors, nurses, agents, etc," said API Sonune.
Renowned Pune gynaecologist Dr Ganesh Rakh - who pioneered the 'Beti Bachao' campaign here in 2012 - condemned the incident strongly and said it must be thoroughly probed as it could be a female foeticide racket run at the Kadam Hospital.
"What has accidentally stumbled out through the illegal abortion on a minor girl may actually have larger consequences. The male-female ratio in the country is falling at an alarming rate and this will be known in the near future," Rakh told IANS.
Shiv Sena leader Kishore Tiwari said: "The Maha Vikas Aghadi government should take strong cognisance of this .I request Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil and Director General of Police Sanjay Pandey to form a Special Investigation Team and get to the root of these murky goings-on here, and not to spare anybody."
Medical fraternity sources claimed that the hospital enjoyed a dubious reputation for a long time, attracting patients not only from Wardha, but also neighbouring districts like Yavatmal, Amravati, Nagpur and Chandrapur, besides Arvi - which has a population of around 60,000.
"There were murmurs of alleged shady goings-on there, like illegal abortions, banned sex-determination tests and even female infanticide, but nobody dared to complain or speak about it in open," revealed a local doctor, requesting anonymity.
In a guarded reaction, Indian Medical Association Maharashtra President Dr. Suhas Pingle said: "IMA believes in quality, safety and ethicality in the medical profession and practice of medicine. In this matter, law should take its own course."
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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