New Delhi: Loss of livelihood, failure to pay his son’s school fees and an accident that led to the seizure of his two-wheeler — these are the factors that allegedly drove Diwakar Sarkar, 32, to a point where he thought the only answer to his problems was selling his kidney.
Sarkar is believed to be one of the victims of a suspected racket busted by Delhi Police Wednesday, that allegedly promised poor people Rs 1 lakh-3 lakh in exchange for their kidneys.
Sarkar was rescued in the nick of time.
Meanwhile, as many as 10 people, including a “quack”, an anaesthesiologist, and three people who have allegedly sold their own kidneys in the past, have been arrested in connection with the case.
Also in the net is an operation theatre (OT) technician said to fashion himself as Phunsukh Wangdu, the maverick genius played by Aamir Khan in the 2009 Bollywood superhit 3 Idiots.
The syndicate, sources in Delhi Police said, looked for young men. They allegedly targeted “the poor and the needy” in front of gurdwaras and temples, and outside hospitals.
Apart from the individuals they found and lured for money in Delhi, members of the syndicate also reached out to individuals in different parts of the country — like Sarkar from Guwahati — and offered them the same deal, the sources added.
Fake prescriptions were allegedly used to procure medicines and get donors tested.
Once potential donors were tested and found eligible, they were taken to a makeshift hospital at Gohana in Haryana’s Sonepat for the transplant and later shifted to a flat in Delhi’s Paschim Vihar for post-op treatment, the sources said.
Also on Delhi Police’s radar are two city-based pathology labs that members of the syndicate allegedly used for conducting tests for donors. Md Latif, one of the accused, was an employee of one such testing lab, sources said.
The role of two more doctors associated with reputed private hospitals is also under the lens, the sources added.
South Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Benita Mary Jaiker told ThePrint Wednesday that four victims — aged between 21 and 32 years — hailing from Assam, West Bengal, Gujarat and Kerala had been identified so far.
One recipient had also been traced in Delhi, she added.
The DCP said the gang would primarily target young men aged between 20 and 30 years who were in desperate need of money. “They have transplanted more than 20 kidneys till now,” she added.
The prime suspect
Police have identified Kuldeep Ray Vishwakarma, described by the sources as an OT technician with 20 years’ experience, as the prime accused in the case.
It was Vishwakarma who allegedly assembled this syndicate and performed the transplants, according to police sources.
During interrogation, Vishwakarma said he has a “99.9 per cent success rate” on the operating table, a source told ThePrint.
“He considers himself to be Phunsukh Wangdu of the movie 3 Idiots and believes that he was doing a good job. He says that even if he closes his eyes (while performing the transplant), the patient will be fine,” the source said.
Another accused in the case is anaesthesiologist Dr Sourabh Mittal, who is an MBBS graduate from the Maulana Azad Medical College and works with a reputed private hospital in Delhi, the sources said. Mittal allegedly received Rs 2,50,00 per transplant.
Other accused include Sarvjeet Jailwal, Shailesh Patel, Md. Latif, Vikas, Ranjit Gupta, Om Prakash Sharma, and Manoj Tiwari.
A second source told ThePrint that Vikas, Shailesh and Ranjit had sold their own kidneys in the past before joining the syndicate.
According to police sources, each member of this syndicate — which had been in operation for six months now — had a designated task.
Shailesh and Sarvjeet, for example, identified potential donors, the second source said.
Delhi Police believe that the group performed at least two organ transplants each month at the Gohana home of accused Sonu Rohilla (37), which had been converted into a makeshift hospital.
Rohilla, who has studied only till Class 10, has a Panchakarma diploma that qualifies him to be an ayurveda therapist, sources in Delhi Police said.
Video footage of the makeshift hospital — ‘Sri Ramchandra hospital’ in Gohana — seen by ThePrint revealed that both floors of the building were occupied, and equipped with dialysis machines, an OT and other equipment.
The accused, sources said, had sought no permissions to operate a hospital.
Delhi Police are also said to be investigating a ‘Rajasthan connection’ to the racket.
“The main accused, Vishwakarma, has told the police that he had assisted in another racket operating in Rajasthan some two years back. Soon after, he gathered this gang and they have conducted over 14 such kidney transplants, earning Rs 25-20 lakh per surgery,” the second source said.
During its raid at the DDA flat in Paschim Vihar where they allegedly found Diwakar Sarkar, police also rescued Ashwin Pandey from West Bengal and Rizwan from Kerala, along with Raghu Sharma from Gujarat, who had already undergone the procedure a week ago and was paid Rs 3.2 lakh for his kidney, the source said.
“All those found in the flat during the raid have come to Delhi only for this purpose [to give their kidneys]. Pintu Yadav, [suspected victim] who informed the police about the labs, was told that he is being taken for tests for abdominal pain,” the source added.
So far, police have identified only one recipient — Jatin Anand, who sought out the syndicate since none of his family members was an eligible donor.
Anand, the second source said, has lost function in both his kidneys, and has been ailing for a decade. The police are now trying to locate other donors and recipients, including women who may have been targeted by the syndicate.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)