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Kidney scam: absconding doctor's wife held

The police arrest an absconding doctor's wife and kingpin Amit Kumar's driver, taking the total number of people taken into custody to seven.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2008 20:34 IST

Widening the probe into a well-knit illegal trade in human organs spread over five Indian states and even abroad, the police arrested on Wednesday an absconding doctor's wife and kingpin Amit Kumar's driver, taking the total number of people taken into custody to seven.

And police officers in Gurgaon, where the shocking racket in illegal kidney transplants was busted on Friday, admitted for the first time that the accused were indeed aware of the police decision to crack down on them.

"We have arrested Pooja, wife of absconding doctor Jeewan Kumar, and Umesh, driver of the kingpin and doctor Amit Kumar alias Santosh Rameshwar Raut, on charges of criminal conspiracy and also for helping the accused to run their racket," Joint Commissioner of Gurgaon Police Mahender Singh Ahlawat said.

"Pooja and Umesh used to deal with clients by collecting money and ferrying them to their hospital, guesthouse and labs for medical examinations. They used to take care of the patients and clients after the kidney transplant," Ahlawat told IANS.

Both of them have been sent to police custody for further interrogation.

Pooja and her parents, RC Singla and Manju Singla, were also detained and questioned at length on Tuesday but the police eventually gave Singlas a clean chit and let them go.

At the heart of the mind-boggling racket was Amit Kumar, who allegedly carried out hundreds of kidney transplants along with fellow doctors including a brother. None of them were qualified surgeons.

Using persuasion, trickery and threats, occasionally at gunpoint, the doctors forced poor patients to part with one of their kidneys, which were then sold off to wealthy clients from India and foreign countries.

The racket, police say, had gone on for nine long years.

The police Wednesday conducted more searches at several premises allegedly owned and used by Amit Kumar, who some officials believe may have escaped from India, probably to Canada.

Police admit that it was a failure on the part of the administration not to have busted the racket early on.

Besides Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, doctors and labs in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have also been linked to the scandal.

Among the countries from where recipients of kidneys came included Saudi Arabia, the US, Britain, Greece, Canada and Lebanon, police say. The men who lost kidneys came mainly from Uttar Pradesh.

One of the accused doctors, Upendra Aggarwal, and four men described as "agents" whose job was to bring in kidney donors had been arrested until now. At least three doctors - mastermind Amit Kumar, Jeewan Kumar and Saraj Kumar - are on the run. Some put their figure at five.

The Gurgaon police have sent a team to Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh to fetch Aggarwal. "We have obtained Upendra's production warrants," Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon police Rakesh Arya said.

Police admitted that the accused doctors and others had a tip-off about police raids of Jan 24 and the impending arrests.

"Pooja had dropped her husband in their Santro car in Safdarjung Enclave area in Delhi barely hours before their Palam Vihar hospital and DLF guesthouse (in Gurgaon) were searched," Ahlawat said.

The racket was unearthed when the police from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana jointly raided Amit Kumar's Palam Vihar house and guesthouse in DLF area of Gurgaon, which borders New Delhi.

According to the police, the doctors had carried out at least 600 illegal kidney transplants over the last nine years.

The police revelations have sent shock waves in the medical community, with the Indian Medical Association slamming the guilty doctors.

Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss Tuesday sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the racket. The CBI is yet to receive any order.