Police investigations in five states — Maharashtra, UP, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana — suggest that Dr Amit Kumar is the undisputed kingpin of kidney trade in India and Gurgaon the nerve-centre of this global racket for over a decade.
Contrary to Gurgaon Police claims that the gang had been operating in the city for not more than 2-3 years, a careful scrutiny confirms illegal kidney transplants were being conducted there since 2000.
The racket, in fact, dates further. When he was first arrested in connection with an illegal kidney transplant case in August 23, 1994 in Mumbai, Dr. Kumar (then Santosh Rameshwar Raut) told the police that he was in the trade since 1993.
When he was released from Yeravada jail after four months, he jumped bail. According to sources, Dr Kumar came to Sector 14 in Gurgaon, where he set up Liberty Hospital and started 'functioning' from there.
A native of Papur Nandapur village in Ankola, Maharashtra, Dr. Kumar started from a small clinic in the Mumbai suburb of Khar that he ran till 1980 and went on to own Kaushalya Nursing Home in the same area.
During this time Dr Kumar came in contact with some kidney traffickers and started luring poor labourers. His brother Dr. Jeevan assisted him.
Police believe Raut had established himself considerably into the trade when the Mumbai police arrested him along with 11 of his associates. He used to charge Rs 15 to 20 lakh in the 90s and is believed to have amassed more than Rs 100 crore.
According to Joint commissioner of Mumbai police Rakesh Maria, Dr Kumar had overseas clients.
After the expose, his family disowned him. His wife, a nurse, divorced him. But even his family could not deter him.
But this time he was cautious and used to change his location frequently. He used to move from one state to another making it tough to trace him, Maria said.
After a raid on his Gurgaon hospital in 1995, he fled and allegedly set up shop in Jaipur the same year. In Jaipur, his 'business' could not flourish as his premises raided after reports that he had extracted the kidney of a rickshaw puller.
According to sources, he then fled to Canada. Around 1999-2000, he came back to India and set up shop in Hyderabad, where he extracted dozens of kidneys from farmers. Sources said he would source the kidneys from Guntur and nearby areas but would conduct operations in Gurgaon. Dr Kumar was booked under the Human Trafficking Act in Guntur but was never arrested.
Again in 2003, Mumbai police registered a case against Dr Kumar for forcibly extracting kidneys of two labourers. However, Dr Kumar again fled to Canada.
In 2005, Dr Upendra Kumar Aggarwal of Shri Ram Hospital Bhallabhgarh came in contact with Dr Kumar. One more doctor, Dr Saraj Kumar from Sahadara, Delhi, was part of the gang.
For the past several years, Dr Kumar has been living in Canada fearing arrest in India, the police said.