The smirk that had become associated with kidney kingpin Amit Kumar for his 15 days on the run was on Friday replaced by a scowl. He faced the media wearing a leather jacket, pink shirt, black pant and a defiant scowl.
"I am innocent," Amit deadpanned. Does he know something that everyone else has missed? Is it possible that India — despite the high level of confidence — may not get to get him in a hurry, if at all?
The rogue doctor is wanted in India for heading an international racket that conducted over 500 illegal kidney transplants at a hospital in Gurgaon. Some of his associates are already in police custody. And it's time to get the kingpin.
But Amit is not headed home yet. "He can be deported to India only after serving punishment in Nepal," said a senior officer of Kathmandu police, Upendra Kanta Aryal.
Nepal's minister of state for Home Ram Kumar Choudhury said no decision has been taken on deporting Amit. The police are in touch with the Interpol and a decision would be taken as per international law, he added.
Amit stands charged with illegally possessing foreign currency by the Nepalese police. At the time of arrest — from a resort in Chitwan forest on Thursday — he was carrying a lot of foreign exchange. "Worth Rs (Nepali) 1.4 crore… so he would be tried under FERA," said Aryal.
Amit is looking at four years of jail if found guilty. But, remember, he is also being probed for an illegal kidney racket in Nepal. If found guilty, he would get another five years in jail. That is nine years. Does India have to wait that long?
Sources in the Indian mission in Kathmandu are confident of getting him much sooner. "We are looking at a fortnight," said a source.
A top government functionary told
on Thursday, "We will have no problems bringing him back to India."
But the stand taken by Kathmandu police on Friday has queered the pitch a bit for all the don't-worry-we-will-get-him hopefuls in India. "They can delay his deportation," admitted one official.
Amit will be produced before a magistrate on Sunday —the next two days are holidays. The magistrate could set him free on bail —- foreign currency violation is a bailable offence — or put him in police custody. But the kidney racket investigations would continue. Indian mission sources said, "We are trying to tell the Nepalese authorities that many of their own people were among his victims."
India and Nepal have an extradition treaty and it recognises organ trade as an offence. Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Navtej Sarna said in Delhi, "Given the nature of the case and the close cooperation that exists between legal and security authorities between India and Nepal, we expect that Dr Amit would be handed over to the Indian authorities at the earliest possible."
Does that sound like "soon"?