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Sale of infants: Police to grill Amala in Hyderabad

By T. V. Sivanandan

GULBARGA, APRIL 28. Two senior police officers from the State have been sent to Hyderabad to question the former film actress, Ms. Amala Akkineni, in connection with the alleged adoption racket, and her role in St. Theresa's Tender Loving Care Home which is one of the orphanages suspected to be involved in the racket.

A senior police officer connected with the investigation of the sale of female infants from Lambada tandas in Gulbarga District to orphanages in Andhra Pradesh expressed surprise over the denial by Ms. Amala, wife of the Telugu superstar, Mr. Nagarjuna Akkineni, of her involvement. He told The Hindu that the State police had documentary evidence to prove that Ms. Amala was the honorary President of St. Theresa's Tender Loving Care Home and was closely connected with the activities of the home.

The officer clarified that the State police had never said that Ms. Amala knew about the activities of the orphanage run by St. Theresa's Hospital and were only pursuing the leads provided by the main accused, Christopher, who had said that the children procured from the Konchavaram tandas were given to St. Theresa's Tender Loving Care Home.

The State police were also not sure whether Ms. Amala was aware that the orphanage was involved in an adoption racket. The State police would only seek some clarifications from her about the functioning of the orphanage and the presence of two babies there suspected to be from the Lambada tandas.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr. Siddaramappa, and the Circle Inspector, Mr. Veerabhadrappa, left for Hyderabad today with the relevant documents and records seized from St. Theresa's Tender Loving Care Home, which stated that Ms. Amala was the honorary President of the Home.

Official sources said the State police were not on a witch hunt and were only pursuing the case of the sale of female infants. Christopher, who was taken by a Karnataka Police team, had identified two babies, Bryana and Hita, as the ones given or sold to the home and both were from tandas in Konchavaram. Apart from this, Christopher had also told the Andhra Pradesh Police and Karnataka Police that the three infants with him at the time of his arrest at Tandur on March 19 were being taken to St. Theresa's Tender Loving Care Home in Hyderabad.

Sources said the investigation of the affairs of the home had revealed that since its inception in 1995, it had given 219 children in adoption to persons abroad, including in the U.S., Canada and Australia. The home had also given 166 children in adoption to childless couples within the country. The documents also revealed that in the year 2000, as many as 34 children had died due to various reasons. The deaths were also being investigated.

According to reports available here, the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), which is inquiring into the functioning of the orphanages involved in giving children in adoption, is believed to have given a clean chit to the functioning of St. Theresa's Tender Loving Care Home and two other orphanages in the child trafficking case.

The State Police are likely to bring to the knowledge of CARA the alleged violation of rules and regulations by St. Theresa's Tender Loving Care Home in accepting the infants and later giving them in adoption.

Key accused at large

The key accused in the child trafficking case, Ms. Savitri Puttaraju Samson, is still eluding the Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka police forces.

Ms. Samson, founder of the John Abraham Memorial Bethany Home at Tandur, with an office in Hyderabad and a branch in Gulbarga, has sought anticipatory bail from the Karnataka High Court. The case will come up for hearing on May 3.

Police sources here said that the officer investigating the case booked in Gulbarga District relating to the sale of female infants from Lambada tandas has gone to Bangalore to assist the prosecution oppose Ms. Samson's bail application.

The investigation by the State police of the activities of the John Abraham Memorial Bethany Home has revealed Ms. Samson's connection with professional adoption agencies in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Belgium and Denmark. The police have seized correspondence between the home and the adoption agencies.

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