A big chunk of the promised money disappears as the agent’s commission and the victims are blackmailed and threatened into silence

The busting of the kidney racket by the Ramanagaram police and the arrest of a tout has again turned the focus on the agents who are actively operating in this region.

The police are looking for other touts who are on the run, a senior official supervising the investigation said, and identified the arrested tout as Srikanth.

“There are several like him operating in the region, networking with hospitals and police and revenue officials to make the transplant process smooth.”

These touts lure poor people by dangling huge sums but at the end of the day, the donors are left with a pittance. They are threatened and blackmailed into silence, the officer said.

Gayatri’s story

Take the case of Gayatri, a 35-year-old and mother of two from Mandya district, who was approached by Mahade, a tout, promising her Rs. 1.1 lakh for a kidney. Ms. Gayatri’s husband, a petty businessman, had incurred huge losses and the couple was being harassed by moneylenders.

Ms. Gayatri then decided to donate her kidney to partly clear her husband’s debts.

As per the deal, she was paid around Rs. 30,000 as advance and was taken to Prashanth Nagar in Vijayanagar, Bangalore, where she was made to stay in a house for a week, posing as a close relative of the recipient, a college student identified as Swetha, niece of a businessman.

Police verification

The Vijayanagar police, as part of the formalities permitting transplant between close relatives, visited the house during her stay and gave their clearance. Ms. Gayatri was then asked to go back to her village. A few days later, last August, she was taken to a hospital on HAL Airport Road in Bangalore, accompanied by Mahadev, where the kidney was transplanted. After spending a few days in the hospital, she was discharged. Since then she has been waiting for the remaining amount.

“This is not an isolated case. We have received information about many such cases which are being probed,” the police official said, adding efforts are on to trace Mahadev and others who are part of the racket.

Police denial

When The Hindu called the Vijayanagar police station, they denied having any such information. A senior officer said he had verified the documents of three cases in the recent past, which belonged to close relatives. “Apart from this I don’t remember clearing the file of a transplant case involving a girl as recipient.”

When contacted, Ramnagaram Superintendent of Police Anupam Agarwal refused to comment stating that divulging details would hamper investigations.