New Delhi: A 24-year-old MBA student risked his safety and played along with illegal kidney donation agents for several weeks to expose a well-organised racket operating in Delhi, top police officials said.
The racket was busted on Thursday when a Delhi Police team conducted multiple raids at the city’s Batra Hospital. Four alleged middlemen were arrested in raids at other places and sent to six-day police custody.
Praveer Ranjan, joint commissioner of police (crime branch), said the arrests were a result of 40 days of trailing the racketeers. The youth who helped bust the racket is Jaideep Sharma, an MBA student at Pune’s Symbiosis Institute.
His quest for the racketeers began last September when one of his friends suddenly went missing. Since the friend had spoken about selling his kidney for a handsome price, Jaideep believed that his disappearance had something to do with a racket. He, therefore, made a conscious effort to contact the kidney racketeers and offer himself as a donor.
The racketeers fell into the trap and offered him Rs 4 lakh for donating his kidney.“Our investigation has suggested that certain things could not have been possible without help from the hospital’s insiders. We are calling some doctors and their assistants for questioning”
Sharma, meanwhile, contacted a reporter from News 24 channel. Prepared to conduct a sting operation, the news team informed the crime branch and sought backup.
Thereafter, Sharma played along with the racketeers for several weeks, allowing the police to gather evidence. In the meantime, the racketeers made Sharma assume the identity of an Andhra Pradesh man by arranging fake documents and working on his looks.
This was necessary as the law allows only close family members to donate kidneys to the patients. The man who was to receive Sharma’s kidney is a native of Andhra Pradesh.
On Thursday, just an hour before Sharma was to be operated upon, the police swooped down on the hospital and rescued him from the operation theatre.
“We were tipped off by a team of News 24 channel who were conducting a sting on the illegal kidney racketeers. We have a total of 200 hours of video recordings which will help nail the culprits in court,” said Ranjan.
Investigators said this was an interstate racket that had been operating for a long time. The racketeers used to charge Rs 30-40 lakh from each kidney recipient.
The police claimed to have seized several “incriminating” documents from the hospital premises. While the arrests so far have been limited to the middlemen, Ranjan said the role of Batra Hospital’s doctors and staffers and a city-based diagnostic centre is also under the scanner.
“Our investigation has suggested that certain things could not have been possible without help from the hospital’s insiders. We are calling some doctors and their assistants for questioning,” said Ranjan.
Madhur Verma, DCP (crime branch), said the documents seized so far show a “strong possibility” of the involvement of hospital staff, including that of doctors.
When contacted, Batra Hospital denied any role in the racket, saying, “Batra Hospital conducts all renal transplants fairly and under strict supervision. All related and unrelated transplants are vetted by a committee. All the transplant act guidelines are followed. All documents are checked and the proceedings of the committee are recorded. There is no involvement of the hospital in any wrongdoing. The hospital has and will fully cooperate with the police and earnestly assist in finding out the culprit.”