One of the key whistleblowers in the kidney racket busted in July 2016 at Dr LH Hiranandani hospital was found dead in his one-room flat in Diva on Tuesday. Sunder Singh (28) was running a pav-bhaji and vada-pav stall in Diva besides doing odd jobs, including as a waiter, in the months that followed the investigation into the kidney racket. He had donated his right kidney to a Gujarat recipient in April 2016 for Rs 55,000 after his employer at a Grant Road-based video parlour allegedly lured him to illegally donate his organ.
Later, Singh had started working under the kingpin Bijendra Bisen, helping him make forged documents and medical papers to facilitate kidney transplants. Failing health and false promises of money eventually forced him to blow the lid off the racket.
According to Mumbra police senior inspector Kishore Pasalwar, the news of his death came to light on Tuesday evening after neighbours at the Om Sai Mauli apartment on Diva-Asangaon road complained of foul smell. When neighbours realised the smell was coming from the third-floor apartment where Singh lived, they rang the bell but no one answered. When the door was broken, the police found Singh hanging from the ceiling.
Pasalwar said, “The door was locked from inside. As of now there is no foul play suspected and we have taken an accidental death report in the matter.”
Thane police spokesperson Sukhada Narkar said, “Singh had been residing in the building since the past two years on rent. He had a fight with his wife after which she left for her village in UP on January 3. Ever since, he was alone at home and may have committed suicide a few days back.”
The body was heavily decomposed. It was sent for postmortem to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj hospital, Kalwa.
The police said no suicide note was found. “We will be awaiting the postmortem report to find the cause of death. Investigation is on to find out if any foul play was involved in the matter,” Paswalwar added.
In his statement to the Directorate of Health Services in 2016, Singh had named Hiranandani hospital transplant coordinator Nilesh Kamble and Bison as the masterminds behind the racket. He had alleged that three doctors in Hiranandani hospital, Dr Mukesh Shete, Dr Mukesh Shah and Dr Prakash Shetty, assured him that “after donation, his kidney will grow back”. “They said it is like blood donation,” Singh had told The Indian Express.
In the months that followed the case, he said he had started receiving threat calls and feared for his life. He used to suffer abdomen pain and could not lift heavy objects. “I only gave my kidney to repay all debts,” he had said. He was promised
Rs 3 lakh for one kidney.
Dr Sanjeev Kamble, former director of the Directorate of Health Services, said, “We have still not reissued licence to Hiranandani hospital to conduct transplants. They approached us several times.” The permission to conduct transplants also remains suspended for the three doctors named as accused by Powai police. The Powai police filed a chargesheet in the case naming seven doctors of the hospital as accused.