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CBI questions kingpin’s family for clues

The Central Bureau of Investigation interrogates the father and brother of Dr Amit and Dr Rawat, the two alleged kingpins of the multi-crore kidney racket.
By HT Correspondent | None, New Delhi/jammu
UPDATED ON FEB 16, 2008 04:35 AM IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday questioned the father and the brother of Dr Amit Kumar and Dr Jeewan Rawat, the two alleged kingpin of the multi-crore kidney racket, in Mumbai.

Rawat is absconding and believed to be hiding in Nepal, while Kumar was arrested last week in Nepal.

The agency also questioned the parents of Amit Kumar’s second wife, Poonam, in Jammu on Thursday.

The agency, sources said, has till now not found any evidence to prove that the brothers had illegally removed kidneys from donors.

Rawat is also the subject of an Interpol Red Corner notice but has managed to elude law agencies.

The questioning of Rawat’s father, Purshottam Raut and brother, Ganesh, is being seen as an attempt to pressurise him to give-up. The two were also questioned on Thursday.

Senior officials, however, maintained that the two were questioned to gather more information about the elusive Dr Rawat.

Sources said the donors who had been questioned so far had been paid by the brothers to part with their kidneys.

A three-member CBI team also questioned Amit’s in-laws in Jammu on Thursday. The team recorded the statement of the family members of Kumar’s second wife at their house in Digiana.

Sham Lal Saini’s daughter, Poonam, had married Dr Amit Kumar in 1996 after the latter divorced his first wife. Sources in the CBI said Saini’s mobile number was found in the call details of Dr Amit Kumar’s phone. The number was traced to Jammu. After detailed questioning, Saini was let off.

“Neither me nor any of my family members have any information about the alleged kidney transplant racket. Though Kumar had called me up on my mobile number, it was only through media reports that we came to know that Kumar was accused in some kidney racket,” Saini said.

“The donors we have questioned so far had been paid. This, however, does not mean that the surgeries were legal but we are still to come across people who were forced to part with their kidneys and not paid anything in return,” an official said.

The accused, sources said, also ensured that they took signatures of people who donated kidneys, which clearly stated that they had been paid for this.

The agency is also questioning people, suspected to have worked as ‘middlemen’ for the accused. It has also managed to trace some of the patients who had come from Turkey for treatment.

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