The recent arrest of seven people, including a quack, has brought the spotlight on what is suspected to be a huge illegal sex determination and abortion racket in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district.
According to sources, there are gangs in the area that include brokers and quacks posing as nurses and doctors. They prey on pregnant women in hospitals who are visibly anxious about the sex of their foetus.
The gang would take the women to a secluded spot and perform ultrasound scans that reveal the sex of the foetus; if it’s female, they would carry out abortions, too, via quacks. The law allows neither.
The scene of action
In the latest case, the arrested persons were identified as S Jyothi (33), G Sudhakar, D Sathishkumar from Tirupattur district and V Karpagam (38), B Saritha (40) and S Venkatesh(33), from Dharmapuri district.
Based on a tip-off that four pregnant women were taken to the house of Venkatesh under mysterious circumstances, Deputy Director of Health Services, Kanimozhi, filed a complaint with the police. The police then swung into action and, along with health department officials, rushed to the spot and arrested all the seven people.
According to police, Karpagam, who worked as a nurse in a private hospital until a couple of years ago, posed as a doctor, while the rest masqueraded as nurses and brokers. The latter brought in the pregnant women.
Investigations revealed that the group have been visiting government and private hospitals in the city and preying on couples anxious over giving birth to baby girls.
The accused would carry portable scanning machines to determine the sex of the foetus. Once the baby’s sex was determined, they would help the pregnant women abort the foetus illegally, investigations revealed.
In the latest case, according to sources privy to the investigation, a 27-year-old woman was taken by the gang from a private hospital in Dharmapuri to a secluded place to identify the sex of her foetus. Once it was determined to be female, the pregnant woman, who already has two daughters, wanted to abort the baby, the sources said.
The same gang offered to abort the baby and she was again taken to a secluded place for this. However, the gang botched up the abortion process and left the woman back at her place and fled, the sources added.
Soon, the woman developed abdominal pain and was rushed to a private hospital, from where she was again rushed to the Krishnagiri Government Medical College Hospital. The doctors there removed the dead foetus and saved the woman’s life.
Subsequently, the Krishnagiri health department informed the Joint Director of Health, D Malarvizhi Vallal. Based on communication from her, the police arrested the gang and slapped charges of 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and 15(2) of the Indian Medical Council Act.
A senior police officer in the district said it’s a huge racket and that they have arrested only the people involved in sex determination tests and foeticide.
“There are hundreds of brokers and other workers who are operating as part of a larger network. This may be one of the gangs that are operating in the locality. We are on the lookout for more such brokers and quacks in the locality,” the senior police officer said.
All the arrested persons were sent to judicial custody. Further investigations are on.