NEW DELHI - Police in northern India said Wednesday they had arrested a 47-year-old man for selling his newborn grandson to a local businessman to buy drugs in a deal that was struck on Facebook.

Feroz Khan, a resident of Ludhiana city in the northern state of Punjab 300 kilometres (200 miles) from New Delhi, had allegedly kidnapped his grandson shortly after he was born earlier this month.

Khan sought help from two temporary employees at a local hospital where his daughter gave birth, who contacted the buyer on Facebook and arranged the deal for 45,000 rupees ($830).

“All three people who conspired to sell the child have been arrested and we will be interrogating the businessman who paid the money to buy the baby,” Satish Malhotra, a senior police officer in Ludhiana, said. Khan, along with nurse Sunita Rani and another person known only as Gurpreet, have been arrested for attempted kidnap.

The baby’s mother, Noori a divorcee, had complained that her father was planning to sell her child. Police intervened and rescued the baby from Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi and returned him to his mother. The three accused have been charged with kidnapping and they will be produced before a court on Wednesday.

If proven guilty, they could be jailed for seven years. Police commissioner Ishwar Singh said Gurpreet had a Facebook friend whose wife had fertility problems. The gang settled on a price of Rs 45,000 (£420). Ranni was found to have Rs 20,500 on her person, while Khan had Rs 24,000. The station house officer at the Basti Jodhewa police station said Khan had arranged to sell the baby to fund his drug habit.

In 2011, the country’s federal police admitted in court that there were 815 gangs comprising more than 5,000 members involved in the kidnapping of children for prostitution and begging across India.

In March, a woman from Oklahoma tried to sell her children on Facebook in order to bail her boyfriend out of jail. Misty VanHorn, 22, wanted $1,000 (£670) or $4,000 for her 10-month-old baby and the toddler.

“Just come to Sallisaw, it’s only 30 minutes away and I’ll give you all of her stuff and let y’all have her forever for $1,000,” she is believed to have written on Facebook. Police arrested VanHorn and the children were taken into custody of the state.