"Do you want a girl or boy baby?"
"The rate depends on gender, weight and colour"
"Is a healthy baby enough or should it be good looking too?"
"Given me an advance of Rs 30,000."
These statements are excerpts of a conversation between a retired nurse of Rasipuram Government hospital in Namakkal district and a man from western Tamil Nadu who was looking to buy a baby. 48-year-old Amudha, in a 10-minute recorded conversation, can be heard rattling off prices for the illegal sale of new borns, even offering to procure the customer a birth certificate with his or her name on it.
"The rate depends on gender, colour and weight. If it is a female, the rate begins at Rs. 2.70 lakh, if the girl is fair and is of good weight the price could go up to Rs.3 lakh. For a dark baby boy the rate is between Rs.3.30 lakh and Rs.3.70 lakh and if you want a beautiful Amul baby it is over Rs.4 lakh," she says in a brisk business-like tone. "You can come give me an advance of Rs.30,000 and then come take the baby when it arrives," she adds.
However, this transaction which was discussed on Tuesday did not quite work as expected for the woman who claimed that she had 30 years of experience selling babies. On Wednesday, the recording of the conversation began doing rounds on social media and sure enough came to the attention of the Health Department. An investigation was ordered and Amudha was detained by the Namakkal district police on Thursday morning.
Speaking to TNM, Namakkal Superintendent of Police Ara Arularasu confirmed that Amudha was indeed a part of this illegal trade.
"We have secured her and are investigating what has happened. She claims to have been in this business for 10 years. She retired from the government hospital in 2012. So far, she has admitted that she has been part of three sales. All of them are baby girls. One however she claims was done legally. Our team is procuring the documents to see if they were falsified," says the SP.
In the recorded conversation, Amudha can be heard telling the potential buyer that she works with others to procure the baby and that she gets only a small portion of the money.
Elaborating on this, the SP says, "We suspect a larger network is involved. She has given us some names of people who are handling the children. We will be detaining them for questioning."
The retired nurse also claimed that she knew people in the local municipal corporation who could help forge birth certificates for Rs.70,000.
"It will cost another Rs 70,000 to get a birth certificate. I will get it from the Municipality in 30 days and it will look like the original. I will make it look like you gave birth here. It will take time because they are committing a fraud. The process is all online now, so it is difficult," she says.
The SP however dismisses the claim.
"She has admitted that this is a lie to extort more money from desperate couples. She has also lied about the number of years that she has been doing this business in order to project herself as confident and experienced," says the officer.
Amudha further, reveals her modus operandi in the conversation as she offers to send photos to the buyer on Whatsapp.
"I have been doing this for 30 years and have had no problems thanks to god. If you go formally (adopt a baby legally) it will take a long time," she says. She even goes on to warn the buyer to be wary of neighbours who may complain to the police about the sudden appearance of an infant.
"Her involvement in this is certain but we now have to investigate who else is there. She is on one end of this trade and only responsible for closing the deal," says the SP. "We need to probe how the children are procured and who else is involved."