An 18-member gang allegedly involved in illegal prenatal gender-determination tests and at least 100 abortions was busted in Telangana’s Warangal district on Monday, 29 May.
The gang, including doctors, was apprehended from Venkateshwara Colony in Gopalpur in a joint operation by the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), Health Department officials, and the Kakatiya University Campus (KUC) police.
Three scanners, 10 cell phones, and ₹73,000 in cash were seized from the accused. However, several gang members were still at large. The police were hunting for them.
The police name the accused as Vemula Praveen, his wife Vemula Sandhyarani, Dr Balne Parthu, Dr Moram Aravinda, Dr Moram Srinivas Murthy, Dr Balne Poornima, Balne Pradeep Reddy, Kaita Raju, Talla Arjun, D Pranay Babu, Keerthi Mohan, Balne Ashalatha, Kongara Renuka, Bhukya Anil, Chengelli Jagan, Gannarapu Srilatha, Bandi Nagaraju, and Kasiraju Dilip.
Warangal Police Commissioner AV Ranganath said the gang was decoyed based on a complaint. He said Vemula Praveen was the mastermind of the gang.
India banned prenatal sex determination in 1994, under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act of that year.
Certain doctors and staff members associated with Lotus Hospital in Hanamkonda, Upender (Pardhu) Hospital in Nekkonda, and Balaji Multi-specialty Hospital in Narsampet were involved in the unlawful abortions, police said.
“On receiving a complaint regarding illegal sex determination tests, a thorough investigation was launched to address the issue. The inquiries revealed a troubling operation carried out by the gang that arranged abortions if the tests indicated a female foetus,” the officer told reporters at a news conference.
“A team consisting of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, the task force, and Health Department officials were formed to expose and combat these illicit activities,” Ranganath said.
“To collect evidence, we carried out decoy operations, which conclusively verified the gang’s active participation in conducting unlawful sex determination tests and abortions. The team worked tirelessly to ensure that the truth behind these abhorrent activities was exposed,” he added.
The police said the kingpin, Vemula Praveen, had worked as a technician in scanning centres. Together with his wife, Sandhyarani, he rented a house in Venkateshwara Colony, Gopalpur, where they set up a sex-determination centre.
The gang covertly utilised portable scanners and hired staff to carry out illicit gender determination tests, it has been alleged.
Praveen reportedly established a clandestine network involving registered medical practitioners, public relations officers, hospital management, and other medical staff.
The gang arranged for abortions at specific hospitals, named earlier. The doctors and staff at these facilities would perform the abortions, charging exorbitant fees, and subsequently sharing the profits.
The gang charged between ₹20,000 to ₹30,000 per abortion. It has been estimated that they had already conducted over 100 illegal abortions, further highlighting the extent of their illicit activities.