Even as a court in West Bengal’s Barasat Wednesday granted Delhi Police three-day transit remand of T Rajukumar Rao, the alleged kingpin of an interstate kidney racket busted in the capital last week, officers admitted that the initial round of questioning had thrown up more questions than answers.
Rao, 39, was arrested from Rajarhat in North-24 Parganas Tuesday evening, in a joint operation by Delhi Police and Kolkata Police.
Rao reportedly told police that his role in the racket was limited to ‘customer servicing’. He claimed he handled only the doctors and the clients, while the task of finding willing donors was handled by others, including Debashish Maulik, one of the 10 people arrested so far.
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Rao has also confirmed that he was in contact with the accused arrested from Apollo Hospital, said sources.
However, a “guest list” for a party held at his house the day he was arrested, which allegedly included many prominent doctors from Kolkata, has raised questions about the scope of the racket.
Rao was Wednesday produced before the court of Barasat Chief Judicial Magistrate Apurba Ghosh, where Delhi Police appealed for his transit remand for production at the Saket Court in Delhi. The court ordered Rao to be taken by Delhi Police for his production at the court there on June 11.
The FIR against him has been lodged under sections 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for cheating), 471 (fraudulent use of genuine record), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and sections 18, 19 and 20 of Transplantation of Human Organs Act.
However, Delhi Police were unable to arrest another suspect, a resident of Sodepur who disappeared minutes before police arrived to raid his house. During questioning, Rao also divulged the name of another suspect, a resident of Baguihati who Rao has claimed “introduced” him to an already thriving business, said police sources.
According to Delhi Police, Rao’s role in the operation — at its simplest — was pulling off identity fraud. The FIR lodged against him by Delhi Police states that Rao is suspected of “forging documents” to prove that the suitable donor was “related to the patient”.
“It appears that Rao would coordinate with a network of doctors across India and find out about patients looking desperately for kidney donors and willing to pay accordingly for it. He would keep them happy, while staying in touch with his contacts, who would be parallelly tracking poor families desperate to earn money,” said a police source.
Throughout his questioning Wednesday, Rao told police that he was not the kingpin of the racket and Devashish Maulik and Assem Sikdar, two alleged middlemen who have been arrested, were in charge of running the operation, said police sources.
“It appears that the racket had two sides. While Rao handled the doctors and scouted them for patients looking for a kidney transplant, others like Devashish Maulik would find willing kidney donors,” said a Kolkata Police official. Rao’s passport has been seized and according to sources, his travel records would be key in understanding whether their suspicion about this being an international racket — spanning across Bangladesh, Nepal and Singapore — was true.
Police are now trying to track the whereabouts of the suspect in Sodepur. A Delhi Police team had arrived at his residence Tuesday, but while Rao had no idea about police zeroing in on his location, the suspect had reportedly received a tip-off and escaped, said sources. His arrest, said officers, would be instrumental in understanding the way the racket functioned in West Bengal and how families were approached for organ trafficking.
Police are also looking for another suspect who, Rao told police, had introduced him to the “organ trade business”. “We suspect that the second suspect was the one who introduced Rao to the trade. He left the city before Rao’s arrest and we are trying to track down his location,” said a Delhi police officer.