Mumbai, Mar 7: A homoeopathic doctor, who allegedly performed sex-selective abortions in Maharashtra, was arrested by police from Karnataka, two days after 19 aborted foetuses were found dumped near his hospital in a suspected cross- border female foeticide racket.
Babasaheb Khidrapure, who runs Bharti Hospital at Mhaisal village in Sangli near the Karnataka border, was nabbed by the Miraj police from Belgaum last night, police said today. The foetuses were found alongside a road, a short distance away from the hospital.
"We have sent DNA samples of the 19 foetuses to the lab to ascertain their gender," Sangli SP Dattatray Shinde said. The foeticide issue also figured in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly with Opposition members demanding the resignation of Health Minister Deepak Sawant and Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde.
According to the police, the horrific practice in which the doctor was allegedly involved came to light when a 26-year-old patient died on March 1 after a botched medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) on February 27. Her parents had then filed a case against her husband Praveen. She was allegedly forced to abort her third female foetus after giving birth to two girls.
On the investigation trail, policemen found the 19 foetuses and busted the abortion racket. They were found alongside the Miraj-Belgaum road in Mhaisal village, where Bharti Hospital is located. While some of them were found buried, others were thrown carelessly in blue plastic bags along with animal and sewage waste, police said. Forty bags of skeletons, umbilical cords and other remains were also found and sent for tests, it said. Bharti Hospital, where the abortions were allegedly performed, was being run by Khidrapure.
The hospital, located around seven km from the Karnataka border, had two hidden basement rooms to terminate pregnancies in advanced stages, police said. At one end of the room is a fridge stocked with medicines used to induce abortion. On the other end, there is an opening that led to a drain outside the building where blue plastic bags, half-destroyed medicine bottles and charred bio-medical waste were found, police said.
Neither is the hospital registered under the Nursing Home Act, nor are the homoeopaths allowed to carry out MTP under the Medical Council of India (MCI) guidelines, it said. In the Assembly, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, NCP leaders Jayant Patil and Dilip Walse Patil said that the government must take moral responsibility for its failure to detect and prevent female foeticide in the state. "Health Minister and Women and Child Welfare minister should resign owning moral responsibility in the case," Jayant Patil said.
Sawant told the House that the abortion racket was prevailing since 2009. "The women who used to come for abortion already had one or two daughters and were not keen on another girl child. The sonography reports of these women would be sent to Karnataka and after confirmation, the foeticide would be carried out in Sangli.
The racket involves doctors, radiologists, sonographists, gynaecologists, general surgeons and anaesthetists from Satara, Sangli, Miraj and Kolhapur," he told the House. Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said the incident was unfortunate and the government has taken a serious note of it.
"The culprits would be punished severely," he said. Sawant said investigation into the case is underway and he would be visiting Sangli tomorrow. Earlier, as soon as the House assembled for the day, Vikhe Patil moved an adjournment notice seeking discussion on the Sangli issue but Speaker Haribhau Bagde rejected the demand.