Investigation into the kidney racket, which was busted by the Kumbalgod police on December 31, has revealed that during the past two years at least 25 people were lured to either “donate” or sell their kidneys.
Superintendent of Police Anupam Agarwal told presspersons here on Saturday that seven persons had been arrested in connection with the racket, which is widely spread across Ramanagaram district, especially in Magadi taluk.
Mr. Agarwal gave their names as K. Mahadeva alias Mahadevaiah (65) of Nayakanahalli in Kanakapura taluk; P. Gopal (40) of Vijayanagar in Ramanagaram; C.D. Srikanth (35) of Magadi; Rajanna (40) of Byatarayanapura, near satellite bus terminal in Bangalore; Manjunath (42) of Magadi; Ranjan (58) of Basaveshwaranagar in Bangalore, and Ananth (50) of Koramangala in Bangalore.
The illegal kidney transplants of at least 25 people were carried out at the State-run Victoria Hospital, and at Columbia Asia, Manipal, and Apollo hospitals, Mr. Agarwal said.
“We will probe the role of these hospitals,” he added.
While Mahadeva and Gopal are the kingpins, Srikanth — a contract labourer at the Food and Civil Supplies Department at Magadi — was creating the documents needed for kidney transplantation. Ananth was Srikanth’s assistant at the department, while the others were agents and sub-agents in the racket, Mr. Agarwal said.
So far, no inter-State link had been established in the case. However, the matter would be investigated, Mr. Agarwal said.
“It is a well-operated racket, and scores of people might have illegally sold their organs. Investigation is under way,” Mr. Agarwal said.
The arrested had confessed to running the racket and selling kidneys of around 25 people, another officer familiar with the investigation, said.
Mahadeva was a habitual offender. He was the kingpin in a similar racket that was busted in 2007. He had been evading arrest by violating the bail conditions since then, the officer said.
Mahadeva and Gopal used to lure prospective donors from poor families with money and get their organs removed in hospitals. The gang members used to sell kidneys at high prices, the officer said, explaining the modus operandi.
The kingpins used to charge between Rs. 5 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh for a kidney. But they gave only Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh to those who donated the kidneys.
All from Magadi
Investigations, so far, had showed that all the 25 people who parted with their kidneys belonged to Magadi taluk.
Police officials said they would scrutinise the records of patients and beneficiaries in the hospitals.
The Kumbalgod police have registered two cases against the accused.
Teams to visit tandas
Meanwhile, the Ramanagaram district police have decided to dispatch teams to tribal tandas in Magadi taluk for a thorough investigation.
“We have formed special teams to crack the case and the police teams will go to the tandas on Sunday,” Mr. Agarwal added.