It began Friday as an NIA investigation into alleged hawala transactions between the country’s leading interventional cardiologist Professor (Dr) Upendra Kaul and Jammu and Kashmir separatist leader Yasin Malik. But it ended minutes later as a case of confusion over blood test results and abbreviations.
At 10.30 am Friday, Prof Kaul, who has been awarded the Padma Shri, was asked to explain text messages exchanged between him and his patient Yasin Malik that mentioned “INR 2.78”. The NIA, according to Prof Kaul, believed INR 2.78 was possibly connected to hawala transactions.
But minutes into questioning, Prof Kaul explained to the premier agency that the INR mentioned in the text message stood for International Normalized Ratio (INR), the result of a blood test commonly conducted to check how quickly the blood clots in patients consuming anti-clotting medicines — and not Indian Rupee, which is also abbreviated INR.
Incidentally, Prof Kaul, who was summoned Friday as a witness by the NIA as part of its 2017 terror funding probe, has been critical of the Centre’s decision to scrap the special status of J&K and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Prof Kaul said: “Yaseen Malik has been my patient since 1996. When he was in jail, Malik was brought to AIIMS by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and senior R&AW official A S Dulat. And at AIIMS, he was brought through the Medical Superintendent and I was made to examine him. He then underwent an invasive procedure of the heart — the Aortic Valve Replacement.”
Currently the chairman of Batra Heart Centre, Prof Kaul said, “And following the surgery, he made a few visits for post-operative care. And in particular, there is this blood test to check the efficacy of anti-coagulation. And it is called the International Normalized Ratio (INR).”
According to him, for a healthy person, an INR of around 1.1 is considered normal. “And a person who is on blood thinners, the INR is between the range 2-3. In Malik’s case, the INR was 2.78 and we have exchanged texts on the blood result test. They (NIA) must have picked up the INR 2.78 and possibly thought that it was some kind of hawala transaction going to Jammu and Kashmir. The agency was very nice during the questioning and I clarified that INR refers to the blood test,” he said.
NIA sources said there were calls and text messages exchanged between Kaul and Yasin Malik. “These needed to be verified. It is a routine process. Multiple people are called for questioning when their numbers figure on a suspect’s CDR or they are found in communication through any medium. Not everyone is a suspect. To be frank, we didn’t even know that Kaul had criticised the government. We are focused on our case,” said a senior NIA official.
Another official said that the agency also hoped to get details on Malik’s health issues since the separatist leader keeps complaining about his ill health.