Church Priest held as cops bust child trafficking racket

via published on May 29, 2010

COIMBATORE/CHENNAI: A Chennai-based gang of child traffickers, led by a church priest, which was abducting babies in western Tamil Nadu and selling them, has been nabbed. While Father Alphonse was picked up from his church at Padappai on Thursday, two self-proclaimed social workers, Girija and Rani, were arrested from Perambur the same day.

The Krishnagiri police zeroed in on the child trafficking racket following the arrest of Dhanalakshmi, who had disappeared with a three-month-old baby from the Government General Hospital in Krishnagiri on May 18. During interrogation , she revealed details of a major kidnapping racket operating from Chennai. She told police that two “social workers,” Girija and Rani, from Perambur had hired her to abduct babies. When police nabbed Girija and Rani, the trail led to the kingpin Alphonse, who runs a church at Padappai, on the outskirts of Chennai, and heads an outfit, ‘Rajareega Makkal Katchi’ .

There have been several cases of babies going missing from the government hospitals in Tamil Nadu, especially in Coimbatore, Salem and Krishnagiri. In the latest incident on May 18, a threemonth-old boy was abducted by a woman outside the Krishnagiri hospital.

The baby, which was suffering from fever, was brought to the hospital by his mother Ramakka. At the hospital, Dhanalakshmi befriended Ramakka. She offered to keep the baby, while Ramakka went to a nearby shop to buy biscuits for her elder daughter.

When Ramakka came back from the shop, she found that Dhanalakshmi had disappeared along with her child. Anguished Ramakka rushed to the Krishnagiri town police, who launched a search for the kidnapper. Within two days, the child and the woman were traced.

Investigations revealed that the same gang had kidnapped another boy, threeyear-old Deva, who was playing near the Krishnagiri general hospital on December 4, 2009. The boy, sold for Rs 40,000 to a couple at Devadhanapatti in Gingee, has been rescued and handed over to his parents.

“We will take custody of the priest, and find out how deep and wide their network is and the number of children they have abducted and sold so far,” said Krishnagiri town inspector A Kannappan . Father Alphonse has been lodged in the Salem Central Prison now.

In a similar case in 2005, the state crime branch-CID busted a major child trafficking racket involving an adoption agency, the Malaysian Social Service (MSS).

More than 350 children were said to have been kidnapped and given away in adoption abroad by the agency. The police arrested PV Ravindranath, the proprietor of the agency who died subsequently , his wife Vatsala and son Dinesh Kumar. In September 2007, the Madras high court directed the CBI to take over the case based on a petition by a couple whose child had been abducted and given up for adoption in the Netherlands. Earlier this year, the CBI filed a chargesheet in the case.

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