In 2012, he lived in a small flat in the Baguihati area of North 24 Parganas and paid a rent of Rs 5,000. On Wednesday, T Rajukumar Rao was arrested on suspicion of being the alleged kingpin of an inter-state kidney racket, while hosting a lavish, three-day party at a huge property in Rajarhat to celebrate both his new house and his marriage anniversary.
His arrest didn’t halt the revelry either, with his guests, numbering at least 300, continuing to party till much later. Even if the conversation veered on to Rao’s mysterious and spectacular rise.
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“We came quite fearfully. We saw the police vehicles outside. But then Rao had invited everyone. There were a number of doctors with big cars. He had invited every neighbour. He had personally come to each one of us and told us we must come. No expenses had been spared and there were at least 20 different food items, and a canopy,” said Sumitra Biswas, a neighbour.
As police led Rao away, the guests continued to eat, initially suspecting nothing. One said that they first thought Rao would be back soon. “He was always soft-spoken and perhaps a little too free with his money. But we all thought God had been kind to him… But soon everyone was talking about how Rao seemed to have made so much money at such a young age,” the guest said.
Police sources said Rao was born in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, and later moved to Kharagpur in West Bengal, where he studied till Class IX. He is believed to have moved out for work in the early 90s.
His elder brother, identified by the police as T Ravi, moved back to Andhra, where he reportedly works as an autorickshaw driver now. Their father, police said, is based in Secunderabad.
Rao later moved into a small two-room flat in Baguihati, a suburb of Kolkata near the airport. Locally, he was known as a “clothes trader”, buying cloth from Surat in Gujarat, taking it to artisans in Kolkata to work on, and then selling it to traders in Andhra. Rao reportedly explained this as the source of his income when he bought his first flat in 2013 at Rajarhat.
“By that time, he had married, to Nayna Rao, a resident of Haridevpur in Kolkata. They moved into this new flat at Rajarhat. Here he told his neighbours he was a medical supplier, selling saline water and other supplies to hospitals,” said a police source.
A senior officer said that during interrogation, Rao had claimed he was not the kingpin, and that one “Deepak Kaur, 55, who lived at Changra Chaumatha” had introduced him to the trade in 2012-2013.
By 2015, Rao had started planning to buy another property and moved into the house from where he was arrested only on Sunday.
On Wednesday night, within moments of the guests leaving, the house stood in darkness. Rao’s wife Nayna refused to talk. Their five-year-old son said both his parents were at hospital.