Complaint registered by the state’s Child Welfare Committee (CWC)
A woman working at Mother Teresa’s famous Missionaries of Charity in Jharkhand, India, has been arrested for selling a 14-day old baby according to reports.
A further two female employees from the charity have also been detained and are being questioned as part of the investigation into child trafficking.
Following a complaint registered by the state’s Child Welfare Committee (CWC), police took prompt action.
The charity has said the incident has “shocked” its members.
“We are shocked to know what has happened in our home… It is completely against our moral conviction. We are carefully looking into this matter. We will take all necessary precautions that it never happens again if it has happened,” Sunita Kumar of the Missionaries of Charity told the BBC.
Authorities have now announced they are widening the investigation into a possible child trafficking network hidden within the charity.
“We have found out that some other babies have also been illegally sold from the center,” a police official said.
“We have obtained the names of the mothers of these babies and are further investigating.”
Police also discovered 140,000 rupees ($2,150; £1,625) at the center, which may suggest more evidence of child trafficking.
According to the BBC: The sisterhood has more than 3,000 nuns worldwide. She set up hospices, soup kitchens, schools, leper colonies and homes for abandoned children.
The Missionaries of Charity also runs centers for unmarried pregnant women but no longer arranges adoptions.
Legally adopting a baby in India can take from a few months to years. Each year, only a few thousand adoptions are formalized – a fraction of the number of those wanting to adopt.
Informal estimates of the number of children who are abandoned or unwanted run into tens of thousands.
In October 2015, the government changed the rules.
It took the system online, with a national database of available children.
Supporters say this made the process faster and more transparent and allowed prospective parents to find children anywhere in the country.
But some adoption agencies opposed the changes, which reduced their involvement in the process of matching couples and children.
The Missionaries of Charity ended its own involvement because it opposed adoptions to single women or unmarried couples.
There’s a long-standing stigma associated with adoption in India. In the past, many were arranged informally within extended families.
But concerns persist that couples wanting to adopt may find it easier to turn to the black market and adopt directly from hospitals or orphanages which are not part of the legal system.
This may also fuel the trade in child trafficking, still a major concern in India.
“We are currently investigating the sale of a newborn baby to a couple in Uttar Pradesh for 120,000 rupees,” CWC chairman Rupa Kumari told the BBC.
“But the couple was told that the money was for hospital expenses.”
The baby, a boy, was born to a young woman who arrived at the charity on 19 March, and was sold to the couple on 14 May, Ms. Kumari said.
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Ms. Kumari added that the committee should have been informed when the pregnant woman was taken to the hospital.
She said the committee had discovered that other babies were sold to people in different cities for 50,000-70,000 rupees.
The CWC has transferred 13 pregnant women who were living in the missionary’s Ranchi center to a different location.
Prospective parents have been known to buy babies illegally in India because of the tough laws and a long wait to adopt.
During the 2015-2016 financial year, there were only 3,011 legal adoptions, against a waiting list of 12,000 couples.