In April, Raghu (21) left his home in Gujarat’s Kutch to earn a living in Delhi as his family was under financial strain — his father had lost his job due to the Covid-induced lockdown, his mother was forcibly discharged from a hospital as the family couldn’t pay for her diabetes treatment. Unable to find a suitable job and having exhausted his savings, he took to living outside a gurdwara in South Delhi in May.
Raghu was then approached by a man, who asked him to donate his kidney for Rs 3 lakh, but he refused. The man brought his associates who coaxed Raghu to sell his kidney. “I was told it’s a great opportunity for me to save a life and earn money. They said it was a noble job…,” he said.
Raghu is among over 15 people, mostly the poor and homeless, who were targeted by a gang that ran a kidney transplantation racket across three states. Delhi Police Wednesday arrested 10 persons, including two doctors, in connection with the racket.
Police said one of the arrested accused, Latif, a field boy at a lab, had taken Raghu to a Hauz Khas lab where multiple tests were done. A few days later, Raghu was sent to Sonepat’s Gohana where the operation was done.
“I was promised Rs 3 lakh. I met the man who received my kidney and asked for some more money as I needed to pay for my sister’s wedding expenses and my mother’s treatment. He gave me Rs 20,000 more. I felt bad that I had to sell my kidney, but I… needed the money,” said Raghu.
A police team, led by SHO Shivani Singh and inspectors Bharat Lal and Rohit, has been working for weeks to arrest the accused. The team found that the accused would primarily target the homeless, aged between 21 to 33, sitting outside gurudwaras, temples and hospitals. Police said that while victims were paid Rs 1-3 lakh, the accused would get Rs 20-25 lakh from the recipient.
Police said the accused had also created several Facebook pages where they would contact their potential targets and recipients and ask them to come to Delhi. That was how Diwakar Sarkar (32), who used to sell momos in Assam’s Guwahati, came under the gang’s net. As per his police statement, he suffered major losses during the lockdown and couldn’t restart his momo shop. He is the sole breadwinner and has to take care of his wife and their two children and his brother.
In May, he came across a Facebook page, ‘Only Kidney Patient and Kidney Donor Wanted’, and liked it. Diwakar said he was contacted by the accused and asked to come to Delhi, with the men even promising to pay for his flight. He arrived on May 14-15 and was made to stay at a hotel in Daryaganj. After several tests, he was selected as a donor and the gang promised to pay him Rs 2-3 lakh. Police, who were conducting raids in Paschim Vihar to arrest the accused, arrived in time and stopped the procedure.
Police said investigation revealed that one of the arrested men, Sonu Rohilla (37), converted his two-storey house in Gohana into a ‘hospital’ where he allegedly carried out the procedures — despite not being a qualified doctor. Rohilla, a Class X dropout, used to work as an OT technician at hospitals in Rohtak before he met main accused Kuldeep Ray and they set up the hospital.
Police said arrested doctor Sourabh Mittal (37) works at BL Kapoor Hospital. BLK hospital management issued a statement saying: “It has been brought to our attention that some personnel working at BLK-Max Hospital have been allegedly involved in illegal surgical work at a hospital in Gohana… We have no knowledge of this and are assisting authorities in their investigation.”
Meanwhile, police found that Ray had earlier worked with a Rajasthan-based kidney gang where he learnt the trade and started his own gang.