A relieved mother in India has told how she’s forgiven the childless couple who bought her 18-month-old son from a trafficking ring, after he was finally rescued and returned home.
Yasmeen Kamaal Khan, 25, from a slum in Mumbai, central India, prayed her son would be found safe and well after he was kidnapped by her cousin who worked in a trafficking ring.
After SEVEN days of anguish she was finally reunited with her son but she feels sympathy for the couple who bought him.
‘I could understand their pain,’ Yasmeen said. ‘I’ve already asked the police to drop any charges against them. It’s not their fault. They’re not the traffickers. I’m just relieved to have my son home. I’ll never let him out of my sight again.’
Police claim this particular baby trafficking ring has stolen hundreds of babies in Mumbai over the last year and sold them to childless couples across India for £3,000-£4,000.
Little Ahmed Zafar Khan was at home playing on December 4, last year, when his cousin Yogita Salle, 27, came to pick him up and take him for a walk.
Yasmeen remembered: ‘We are a close family. She’s my maternal cousin and she was very close to my son. When she wanted to take him for a walk around the block I didn’t mind. I trusted her completely and gave her permission to go.’
‘Never in my dreams did I suspect she would do anything to harm my baby.’
Yasmeen is a full time house wife and has been raising her son singlehandedly since her husband Kamaal Khan, 30, had gone to Saudi Arabia to find work two years ago.
But when Yogita didn’t return with Ahmed after a few hours, Yasmeen started panicking and called her brother for help.
‘I thought something had happened to them both so we began searching the streets,’ she said. ‘I was out of my mind. We went to her (Yogita) home but she wasn’t there.
‘Then I called her but she sounded weird. I asked her where’s my son and she denied taking him.’
‘Then I began to really worry. I was very confused.’
Eventually Yasmeen and her brothers went to Mankhurd Police Station and reported Ahmed missing by registering a First Information Report (FIR).
The police investigated and quickly traced Yogita’s mobile to a location in Goa. Yasmeen and her brother insisted they accompanied the police to the address.
‘When I saw her I couldn’t control myself,’ Yasmeen admitted. ‘I screamed at her. How could she do this?’
She’d had a bad reputation in our community but I’d always defended her. I was so hurt.’
Yogita was hiding out in a run down house with other traffickers but there was no trace of Ahmed.
She admitted she was apart of a larger trafficking ring and she had sold Ahmed to a childless couple for Rs 2.5 (£3,000) three days earlier.
Investigating officer, Deputy Police Commissioner Shahaji Umap, from Mankhurd Police Station, said: ‘Yogita was initially hesitant during questioning but eventually she broke and confessed all.
‘The gang would abduct babies in Mumbai and sell them to childless couples in other parts of India. The group would often sell the babies to customers from all over India for around Rs two to three lakh (£3,000-£4,000).
Yoga eventually led the police to the couple who had Ahmed and the police located them.
It was discovered that Yogita had told the couple that Yasmeen was divorced and wanted to remarry so needed to get rid of Ahmed. The couple were horrified to learn the truth.
Yasmeen was finally reunited with Ahmed at the police station where she also met the couple who had bought him.
‘The couple were really nice and felt very bad,’ she said. ‘They took care of my child for those few days. They told me he was not wearing proper clothes when they received him and he was ill. They said they got him medicines and made him better. They were tricked as well. They were devastated. It’s not their fault. That’s why I asked the police to set them free. I can understand the pain of being childless.’
‘I was blessed with Ahmed but I could understand what they were going through.’
Yogita and her accomplice Asha Thakur, 36, were arrested. Yogita was married and her husband Ganesh, 30, was arrested too.
Further questioning identified two other members of the group; Noorjahan Mulla, 40, and Prabha Naik, 36.
All five have admitted their crimes but police believe the ring is a much larger unit with many more babies at risk.
Deputy Police Commissioner Umap added: ‘Since we arrested this group we are pleased to say we have rescued four other babies, two from Goa, one from Ahmedabad and one from Karnataka.
‘The illegal adoptions in different states is helping this racket enjoy the money after selling the babies. The buyers need to stop as much as the sellers. We are still investigating the gang; we believe more people may be involved in this.’
The gang will now appear in court at a later date where they will be sentenced for their crimes.
But Yasmeen, who has no one else in her family to turn to, is enjoying having her son home.
She said: ‘It was unbelievable to see my son again.
‘It was like getting a piece of my soul back. But he looked so ill. He’d lost 3kgs in six days.’
‘When he saw me he looked at me, cried and then slapped me on my face. I guess he was as emotional as me. I could understand his frustration. Since his return he’s not left my side, I feel he’s too scared to go far from me now.’
Since his return Yasmeen has also bought him two pet rabbits to keep him entertained.
She added: ‘He’s been through a lot so I wanted to get him something to help him feel relaxed again.’
‘I have got my child back now and there’s nothing I will ask off God again.’
‘I called my husband and told him the good news. He started crying. He was so worried and wanted to fly home but his company wouldn’t release him. So he’s relieved to know his son his safe.’
‘How could my own cousin do this? I hope she gets the death sentence. They stole my baby like a commodity. They do not deserve any forgiveness. I have lost faith in people now. When your family can betray you like this, it makes you wonder what strangers are capable of.’
India has a notoriously bad reputation for human trafficking. The number of kidnappings and abductions last year was a 263.5 per cent increase on 2005.
The country’s National Crime Records Bureau registered 82,999 cases of kidnapping and abductions last year and 3,490 cases of child trafficking.