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'I am innocent, not a kidney dealer'

The alleged kingpin of kidney racket tells a large media crowd in Nepal that he has not committed any crime.
By Shirish B Pradhan | PTI, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON FEB 08, 2008 08:08 PM IST

Dr Amit Kumar, the alleged kingpin of India's biggest kidney transplant racket, on Friday claimed he had not committed any crime and was not a kidney dealer.

"I have not committed any crime. Allegations against me have been cleared in court," 40-year-old Kumar said in his first comments to the media after being brought to Kathmandu from Chitwan near the Indo-Nepal border.

"I am just a doctor, not a kidney dealer. I will reveal all the truth by organising a press conference after my release," the smartly-dressed Kumar shouted when he was presented before the waiting journalists.

Nepalese police said after questioning Kumar that he had "confessed" to carrying out over 300 kidney transplants in India.

Kumar was arrested on Thursday from Hotel Wildlife Camp in Chitwan in southern Nepal, 60 km from the Indian border, ending a fortnight-long manhunt.

"I am not running away, I am defending myself," Kumar said while charging that he was being "falsely implicated". He will be produced in a Nepalese court on Sunday and charged with violating foreign currency laws, police said.

"As today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) are holidays in Nepal, Kumar will be produced in court on Sunday," Deputy Inspector General Ramesh Kumar Shrestha said.

Kumar said he faced no threat from the underworld and refuted reports that demands for huge amounts had been made to him as "protection" money.

Police had seized a bank draft for Indian rupees 936,000, and Euros 145,000 and USD 18,900 in cash from him during his arrest.

Nepalese police presented Kumar, who was being held at Hanumandhoka police station for interrogation after being brought to Kathmandu last midnight amid tight security, at a crowded press conference.

Police said they also recovered some fake documents from him which indicated that he was trying to acquire Nepalese citizenship and another passport apparently to help him fly to Canada to join his family there.

They said Kumar claimed that he came to Nepal from Canada on December 13 and the next day he left for India by road. He returned to Kathmandu on January 26 by road and stayed at Hotel Radisson in Lazimpat till January 29. He then stayed at hotels in Thamel till February 5 and left for Chitwan by taxi, where he was eventually caught on Thursday evening by Nepal police.

Police said that Kumar "admitted" to charging Rs three-four lakh for each transplant. He "confessed" to looking for hospitals in Nepal through an agent Pankaj Jha, who is now absconding.

An Interpol Red Corner Notice was issued against the tainted doctor after the massive racket with inter-state and international ramifications came to light on January 24.

Kumar, who had checked into Room No 6 of the Hotel Wildlife Camp, 60 kms from Raxaul in UP on the border, was sporting a cap and had noticed a news item about him in the English daily Himalayan Times, which he had cut.

Suspicious over his action, the hotel receptionist is said to have tipped off the police about his presence and he was picked up in a joint operation by Interpol's Nepal unit and local police. Six people have been arrested in India over the scandal.

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