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How victims of illegal kidney racket turned kingpins, lured donors in UP

The police offered the example of Lucknow-resident Junaid Ahmed Khan, who is now in jail and allegedly led the gang in negotiating and convincing poor people to give up their kidneys.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2019 09:01 IST
Haider Naqvi
Haider Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Kanpur
Kidney racket,kidney harvesting,illegal kidney racket
The nine people – who call themselves agents — hail from UP, West Bengal and Delhi. (Photo for representation purpose only)

Nine out of 10 people arrested in connection with an illegal kidney harvesting and transplanting racket in Uttar Pradesh were once themselves victims of similar crimes but joined the flourishing gang lured by the big money involved, three high-ranking police officers involved in the investigation have revealed.

These nine people were allegedly involved in handling the flow of kidneys, prospective recipients, payments to donors and took the lead in trapping and duping poor people from across Uttar Pradesh to sell their kidneys, the aforementioned officers added. The gang also allegedly dealt with illegal liver harvesting.

The gang sold a kidney for Rs 30 lakh to Rs 50 lakh and charged Rs 80 lakh for a liver; the donors were paid only between Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, and the bulk of the money was reserved for the person who lured the donor into the racket, said a fourth police officer, who is part of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the team.

“Agents with operation scars could connect with prospective donors easily. They would lure the gullible after building trust and convince them that it was not a big deal,” said superintendent of police (South) Ravina Tyagi, who is monitoring the SIT investigation.

Tyagi added that the accused had confessed to the police.

“The promise of high returns on bringing in donors compelled us to join the racket and do exactly what was done to us,” the accused were quoted to have told the police during the interrogation by one of the three officers cited above who asked not to be named.

The nine people – who call themselves agents — hail from UP, West Bengal and Delhi.

The police offered the example of Lucknow-resident Junaid Ahmed Khan, who is now in jail and allegedly led the gang in negotiating and convincing poor people to give up their kidneys.

The son of a police constable, Khan was unemployed when he met Gaurav Mishra, who allegedly convinced him to sell his kidney, in 2014 in Kanpur.

“He was told that he would not only make good money but also save a life. However, Junaid was paid only Rs 3 lakh of Rs 13 lakh promised and Mishra took the rest of it,” said superintendent of police (crime) Rajesh Yadav.

To make up for the loss and the prospect of earning more, Junaid joined Mishra and allegedly trapped Vicky Singh of Kanpur’s Gangagunj area. In turn, Singh allegedly convinced a third person, Sanjay Pal, to give up his kidneys. Pal’s sister-in-law Durga and brother-in-law Ashu also gave up their kidneys in the hope of a big payout. Durga joined the gang while Ashu remains immobilised because of the surgery to extract his kidney.

The SIT now fears that the gang had a presence in each of the 75 districts in UP, and in all major states. “In UP, these gang members approached the people in villages and targeted the poorest of poor; Junaid was leading the pack in convincing the people; he was becoming quite skilful in tricking the people,” said one of the officers quoted above.

The racket was busted in February when one of the prospective donors, Sangeeta Kashyap, went to the police.

Illegal organ trade, especially in kidneys, thrives in India because of a huge demand-supply mismatch. Each year, approximately 210,000 new people need new kidneys, but barely around 8,000 get them. As a result, fake doctors carry out fly-by-night surgeries and documents are forged to show donors and recipients as family in an attempt to circumvent tough restrictions meant to prevent trafficking.

In the current case, for example, police have arrested senior staff at two prestigious Delhi hospitals — Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute (PSRI) and Fortis Hospital, Faridabad for allegedly forging documents to show that the donor was a close relative of the recipient.

Last week, the SIT arrested the CEO of PSRI, Deepak Shukla, in Delhi and brought him to Kanpur.

A coordinator of Fortis, Faridabad, Sonika Dabas, was arrested on Tuesday after she appeared to record her statement before the SIT.

Two other PSRI coordinators, Sunita Verma and Mithun, who were served with notices to present themselves before the SIT, have procured stay orders from the court.

The investigators claim that these coordinators were in touch with gang members and involved in forging documents that could establish a relation between a donor and the recipient. “We had the enough evidence with us to arrest Dr (Deepak) Shukla and Sonika Dabas,” said Yadav.

A Fortis hospital spokesperson confirmed that Dabas was appointed in 2002 and was working as a transplant coordinator from 2011. “We would like to reiterate that we have a zero tolerance policy against any malpractice or unethical medical practice. We follow stringent standard operating protocols (SOP) such as Transplant Checklist and Transplant Safety SOP before any transplant procedure is initiated. We are fully compliant with the Transplantation of Human Organs Act and Rules and adhere to guidelines of NOTTO [National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation],” the spokesperson added.“We are offering full support and cooperation to the relevant authorities and the police in their probe.”

No immediate response was available from PSRI hospital.

First Published: Jun 13, 2019 07:55 IST