Page last updated at 14:18 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 15:18 UK

Arrests in India 'blood scandal'

By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi

Police in the Indian state of Rajasthan have arrested five people following complaints that doctors at a hospital forcibly took blood from children.

A massive search for six other alleged offenders has begun in Kaurali district, about 200km (124 miles) east of the state capital Jaipur.

The incidents were reported by parents to have occurred at a private hospital.

Experts say illegal blood collections in India are not rare and thrive because of severe shortages of blood.

The authorities say they are trying hard to clamp down on the problem.

A massive hunt is now underway for at least six medical staff who are alleged to be involved in the racket.

Police said that on Sunday some parents reported that their sons had been taken to two different hospitals by people who promised them money.

But at the hospital, they say, blood from the boys was forcibly extracted.

The parents said their children had been feeling weak since their return from hospital.

Raids by the police at different hospitals have revealed 30 such cases in the area. Further investigations are continuing.

Police say that the children affected are from poor families.

The Superintendant of Police in Karauli district, Sarvar Khan, told the BBC that the hospitals did not have a government license for blood collections.

"There are set norms for collecting blood that these hospitals have violated," he said.

"The person should not be under the age of 18, should weigh at least 45 kilos and the haemoglobin should not be less that 11.5 per cent. All these norms have clearly been violated."

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