Indian authorities say they have busted a baby-trafficking operation run out of out a shelter run by the Missionaries of Charity, a religious sect set up by the late Mother Teresa.
Police have taken two people into custody for allegedly selling babies from a shelter for unwed mothers run by Missionaries of Charity in the eastern state of Jharkhand.
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“They have said that at least five to six babies have been sold to childless couples,” said police officer Aman Kumar. “We are investigating to see how the operation was run and how many more children have been given away in the last few years.”
According to the child welfare authorities, a nun and another person linked to the charity were selling babies to childless couples for amounts ranging between US$550 and US$1,450.
The police arrested an Indian couple who claimed they paid a little over US$1,500 to a staff member for a baby boy born to one of the home’s residents who was 14-days old at the time. The couple lodged a complaint after the worker allegedly took the baby back and kept their money, the Deutsche Welle reported.
A Missionaries of Charity spokeswoman was quoted by the Associated Press saying the charity had stopped giving children up for adoption three years ago and also denied taking money from parents. But the police officer claimed that nearly US$1200 was recovered from the two people who were arrested.
In light of the scandal, a senior MP from the ruling nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party, Subramanian Swamy, is calling for Mother Teresa’s Bharat Ratna award to be rescinded if Missionaries of Charity is found guilty.
“I 100-per-cent support it,” Swamy told India Today.
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