T Rajukumar Rao, the alleged kingpin of the interstate kidney racket busted in the capital last week, was arrested from Rajarhat, a suburb of Kolkata in the North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal, Tuesday evening. According to police sources, he had travelled across four states in the last seven days to evade arrest.
Rao, 39, allegedly ran a kidney racket that spanned several states and neighbouring nations, and involved a vast network of middlemen, organ donors and recipients. “During questioning, he told police he had been running the kidney racket for years and was connected to two similar rackets, one in Coimbatore in 2013 and the other in Jalandhar in 2015,” said sources. They added that in the last five years, Rao and his accomplices have been responsible for over 100 illegal kidney donations.
Rao reportedly told police he was inducted into illegal organ trade in Chennai eight years ago, by a woman and her associate, who was a doctor. He had worked as a middleman for the duo, but the racket was busted and the doctor arrested, said sources. Rao had shifted to Delhi and started running his own illegal organ racket, said police sources.
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According to police sources, the 39-year-old lived with his wife and children at a rented house in Shibtala Khamar area of Rajarhat — the area has seen a realty boom in the last decade due to its proximity to Kolkata and the international airport in Dum Dum. “We are not sure yet, but we believe that the area was chosen by him because of its proximity to the border, the airport and the city. It is an ideal place for someone to lay low,” said a senior Kolkata Police officer.
Sources in Kolkata Police said a team from Delhi Police had approached them with information about Rao’s alleged whereabouts. Once it was verified that the accused was, in fact, laying low at his rented apartment, a joint team of Kolkata Police and Delhi Police arrested him Tuesday evening.
Rao is due to be produced before the Barasat court on Wednesday. He is being held at the Rajarhat police station.
A source in Delhi Police said, “Based on the information received from Aseem Sikdar, a middleman, a team of six police personnel, headed by Inspector Aishvir Singh, was sent to Kolkata last week. Police identified Rao from his photos on a social media account and tracked down his location in Kolkata. But before police could make a move, Rao left for Chennai.”
Another police team followed Rao to Chennai, only to learn he had already left for Hyderabad by road, from where he travelled to Odisha, said sources. The team followed him across four states, but could not arrest him.
“He finally came back to Kolkata… he was planning to cross the border and flee to Bangladesh. But this time, the police team in Kolkata conducted a raid on his residence and arrested him,” said sources.
Kolkata Police said another accused from Bengal, Moumita Maulik — a resident of Siliguri — was also arrested from the state. She is the wife of an already arrested accused, Devashish Maulik. Police sources said Moumita had sold her kidney to a patient from Kolkata a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, officials from the West Bengal health ministry said they were going to launch an investigation into organ trade rackets in three districts — North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Darjeeling — which are considered vulnerable to human trafficking and illegal organ trade.
Delhi Police also arrested three others — two women and one man — Tuesday for allegedly selling their kidneys in exchange for money from middlemen involved in the racket, taking the total number of arrests to eight.
Another team of Delhi Police has been sent to Kanpur to track down other middlemen and to verify addresses of some of the arrested accused.