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800 Suspects, 600 Interrogations & Lots of Drama: The Hunt For a Woman 'Who Stole Babies'

Rashmi

Rashmi

A psychiatrist with a reputed hospital masterminds surrogacy theory by stealing a baby to make money.

People go to any heights for an offspring, they say. This story from Bengaluru which began from the urge to have a healthy baby will leave you at the edge of your seat since it is nothing less than a suspense thriller flick.

Flashback1: Hubballi (2015)

Rashmi (31) was a psychiatrist with a reputed hospital in Hubbballi. A woman walked into her clinic one day with her mentally challenged child. Rashmi started treating the child and after a couple of visits, the mother found that there was considerable improvement in the condition of the child. In due course, the psychiatrist and the mother of the child became friends. On one occasion, the mother confessed in the then confidante psychiatrist that she had certain health issues and hence couldn’t conceive again. It is then that Rashmi pitched the idea of surrogacy to her.

After a detailed discussion with her husband, the mother of the child agreed to this. Rashmi said she knows doctors who are experts in this and she will also find a surrogate mother for their baby. She even took samples of sperm and said she will be sending them to the concerned team.

Flashback 2: Bengaluru (2019)

Rashmi was now a senior psychiatrist with a reputed hospital in Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru. She was very much in touch with the wealthy couple who were waiting for their baby through surrogacy as promised. One fine day, Rashmi called the couple and said she has found a surrogate mother and the IVF procedure is successful. The overjoyed couple were already dreaming about taking home a normal and healthy baby.

Flashback 3: Bengaluru (May, 2020)

Rashmi started going around government hospitals in various areas of Bengaluru and befriended a few staff. She was inquiring if there was any delivery at the hospital and the whereabouts of the parents. She finally zeroed in on BBMP hospital at Sirsi circle, Chamrajpete which didn’t have much security. On May 29, a staff of the hospital told Rashmi that a healthy baby boy is born in the hospital at 7.20 that fateful morning. The parents of the baby, Naveed Pasha and Husna Banu are labourers who migrated from Andhra Pradesh in search of work. A doctor gave a pill to Husna Banu and left her side. Her husband Naveed Pasha had just left the hospital to drop his sister-in-law home. Husna Banu soon fell asleep and Rashmi reached there almost instantly. She took the baby from the mother’s side and fled the hospital.

She later went to a friend’s house in Vijayanagar where the North Karnataka couple were asked to meet her. The baby exchanged hands and Rashmi walked away with Rs 14.5 lakh. The couple, ignorant of what took place just hours ago left the city with a baby boy and a heart full of joy.

News spread like wildfire of a child missing from BBMP hospital and police did every possible thing to trace the culprit. There was camera footage where a female was seen moving swiftly but easily with the child. But the videos weren’t clear enough to identify the face. Based on major features from the camera footage and the description given by the mother, police got a sketch of the thief and circulated it all over. But nothing came out of it.

The interesting Investigation:

After a while, since there were several females in the case, from the victim to the accused and a baby involved, the case was handed over to Women’s Police Station, Basavanagudi. A special team of 20 brilliant investigators were formed who set out to work almost immediately.

The team started with questioning the hospital staff and gathering cell phone numbers connected to the closest tower range. A total of 35,000 phone numbers were on the table and they began the tedious task of sorting them. After a few weeks, the team zeroed in 600 phone numbers and collected details including photographs of all 600 people. Out of this, one photo matched the sketch and the team set out to meet the female.

Enter Dr Rashmi. ‘She doesn’t have an MBBS degree,’ says Harish Pandey, DCP, Bengaluru South. “She says she has an MD in psychiatry and we are yet to cross-check that. She is a resident of Vijayanagar, Bengaluru and is a mother of a 45-day old baby girl. Her husband incurred a serious loss in business and she had around Rs 4 to 5 lakh of educational loan on her. She cleared all debts and also helped her husband start afresh with the money she took from the North Karnataka couple.

“We traced the baby back to the couple and they have been taking very good care of it. Until police knocked on their door, they didn’t know about the whole incident. DNA analysis of the baby is still pending and we can confirm the parents only after that report is ready. She told the surrogacy story to the investigating team as well and revealed the truth only after we brought her in for a thorough investigation along with the North Indian couple to the police station,”. The police revealed.

The team has interviewed around 800 suspects including every person in the hospital, to the driver who picked her later. That’s when specific points came out and the CCTV footage profile fit in. “We did a detailed video analysis and took the lady into custody after confirmation. The previous investigating officer had handed over valuable data to this team and it helped a great deal,” said the DCP.

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first published:June 01, 2021, 22:18 IST