Bruised baby’s mom sold for 2 lakh

NEW DELHI: The mother of the battered baby battling for life at AIIMS has been tracked down. But Munni’s story too is agonizingly painful – dumped by her criminal husband in Bihar, lured to Delhi by pimps to be finally sold her off to another man in faraway Rajasthan. Her heart-wrenching tale has blown the lid off a well-oiled inter-state trafficking ring that straddles the west to the country’s far-east. She didn’t abandon her children on her own, but was weaned away from them by the vagaries of fate.

Delhi Police, which traced Munni to Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan, said she was tricked into a second marriage and her children changed hands through the intricate trafficking network. They are yet to track down her two other children – a boy aged five and a girl, three-and-a-half-years old.

Sold as a virgin for a mindboggling amount of Rs 2.2 lakh, their second marriage got stuck just three days later. The couple suddenly realized they had been tricked. The woman was no virgin, but a mother of three. And she too had been separated from her three children despite tall promises. When Munni enquired about her kids, she was assured by the pimps that they were in safe custody. This even as her youngest daughter was battling for life at a city hospital.

And on Monday, the jigsaw was finally falling into place with the arrest of two other women – Laxmi and Kanta Chaudhry. Laxmi was the woman from Mohan Garden who had claimed that Munni had dumped the child with her and fled. Kanta, a resident of Kotputli in Haryana, was instrumental in selling off Munni to a man in Rajasthan. And it was Laxmi again, who had handed over the baby to Rajkumar who in turn passed her on to the 15-year-old teenager.

Another woman Saroj (resident of Haryana) who had introduced Laxmi to Kanta, and one Shankar who had coaxed Munni to come to Delhi from Muzzafarnagar are yet to be nabbed. Another kingpin Rajkumar too is on the run.

“We are treating Munni as a victim and not as an accused. Her three children from the first marriage were handed over to separate persons. The mother was tricked into marriage by the accused who assured her that they were taking good care of them and she could reunite with them if her second husband agrees. This makes her a victim of circumstances,” said Chhaya Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South).

Sharma said Munni, daughter of a Railways employee, was married to Mohammad Shah Hussain in 2006 at Muzzafarnagar, Bihar. But Hussain took to crime and a few years later ran away from home after cops turned the heat on him.

In July last year, Munni began receiving calls from Shankar, a key player in the inter-state trafficking racket. Initially, she spurned Shankar’s advances. But he persisted with promises of marriage and employment opportunities in Delhi.

An apprehensive Munni then said she wanted to meet Shankar’s relatives. “It was then that Shankar introduced Laxmi to Munni. Laxmi told her that she was young and can get married to someone in the capital,” said Sharma. It was then that Munni accompanied Shankar to Laxmi’s residence at Uttam Nagar in August last year.

Laxmi tried to send the children to madrassas and hostels in the capital, but managed to impress on Munni that only marriage can bring her financial stability. It was at this stage that Saroj sprung into the picture in a carefully planned script.

Saroj said she would marry her off to her cousin in Rajasthan. She claimed her cousin’s wife had passed away and he too had children of his own. “Saroj and Laxmi coaxed Munni to hand over her children to them in Delhi. They argued once she convinced her new husband, she can always stay with her children,” said DCP Sharma. The gang produced fictitious “family members” of both sides – people whom cops claim are integral part of the gang. And this how she was lured into a trap and sold off.

The police said they have leads on Munni’s other child and she will be brought to the capital from Muzaffarnagar. “But the boy’s whereabouts are not known. We have also sent teams to Sidharth Nagar in UP in search of Rajkumar. The Rajasthan police have lodged cases against Rajkumar and Kanta Devi in similar cases at Alwar.

At AIIMS, doctors said the two-year-old baby is on ventilator and is showing no signs of improvement. The baby has undergone a DNA test to determine her paternity.

Dr Deepak Agarwal, neurosurgeon with the hospital, said, “The baby is not breathing properly. That is why she is on ventilator. Forensic experts have conducted the DNA test. We confirmed that she had human bite marks on her body.”

At AIIMS, doctors said the two-year-old baby is still on ventilator and is showing no signs of improvement. Forensic experts have conducted the DNA test to determine the baby’s paternity.


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