2 Gujarat docs held in sex-selection sting

IN a first inter-state sting operation spanning Maharashtra and Gujarat, two doctors and an agent were trapped in a sex selection racket. With the help of a pregnant tribal woman from Shahada taluka of Nandurbar district in Maharashtra as decoy, officials tracked the illegal practice to Panesar in Surat, Gujarat.

On Friday, Surat police with health authorities and officials from Nandurbar district with the help of activist Advocate Varsha Deshpande of Lekh Ladki Abhiyan conducted a raid on clinics of Dr Ketan Zariwala, gynaecologist in Surat and Dr Chetan Patel, a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine (BAMS) doctor for their role in determining sex of a foetus and flouting the Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act. Hiralal Pawar, a ward boy at Nandurbar's Khushi hospital, who took the decoy to Surat, was also arrested.

Dr Prakash Waghela, Gujarat's PC-PNDT nodal officer said this was is the first joint operation involving two states and special crime branch officials from Surat were brought in to avoid any untoward incidents. Dr Prasad Bhandari who is in charge of the PC-PNDT Act implementation in Nandurbar said there were several complaints about two-three hospitals at Shahade tehsil indulging in sex selective abortions.

Deshpande, who conducted 34 stings that led to arrest of doctors in Maharashtra, said they tracked down the sex selective practice when Pawar agreed to take the pregnant woman to Surat.

According to Bhandari, the ward boy, the woman and Kailash Jadhav, an activist from Lekh Ladki Abhiyan who posed as the woman's relative, travelled to Surat where they were taken to Priya hospital. However, hospital authorities denied they conduct sex selective abortion. Pawar then took her to Patel at Om Sai Diagnostic laboratory. He allegedly demanded Rs 14,000 and took her to Wani Hospital where Zariwala performed the ultrasound.

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