Three letters seized by the Powai Police have unveiled a deeper connection between racketeers and the LH Hiranandani Hospital.
According to the charge sheet filed by the Powai Police, the police seized three letters from Nilesh Kamble, one of the accused and organ transplant co-ordinator for the hospital, which gave approvals for the transplants.
As reported in Hindustan Times on 12 October, "The three letters issued on the letterhead of LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, gave approvals for kidney transplants between unrelated people, according to the charge sheet filed by Powai police," the report said.
The letters dated March 21, as reported by the newspaper, revealed that the hospital appointed a hospital authorisation committee (HAC) meeting, an unusual incident in cases like this, which was "attended by members Dr Anurag Naik, director, Dr Suvin Shetty, pathologist, and Dr Veena Shewlikar, pathologist; external members Dr Sujata Shrivastava and Mrs Brinda Ramakrishnan; and Dr Babulgaonkar, assistant director of the Directorate of Health Services (DHS), Mumbai Circle and Thane." However, none of the people mentioned in the letters have signed them.
This has come out at the same time when one of the activists, Mahesh Tanna, who helped break the racket, received a letter threatening him to stay out of the case. "Will you become hero by spoiling the image of our beloved CEO Dr Sujeet Chatterji," The Free Press Journal wrote quoting few lines from the latter. "If you act smart we doctors will take proper revenge out of it," the letter said, according to FPJ.
How the racket was busted
On 14 July, Mumbai Police arrested four people from the LH Hiranandani Hospital in connection with an alleged kidney scam. The arrest included the kidney recipient, his son, the kidney donor and an agent who helped them find the donor.
Call it bad luck or sheer stupidity, the agent in question, Bhejendra Bhisen (42), had reportedly told a social worker that a patient was to receive a kidney from a donor he had shown as his wife.
According to an article published in The Indian Express, the social worker named Rajeev Pawar then approached Mahesh Tanna who then tipped off the police of the illegal transplant.
Around 12.30 pm, right before 48-year-old Brijkishor Jaiswal, a sari businessman from Surat, was about to undergo the transplanat, the police arrived at the hospital and stopped the transplant. The police arrested the patient, Jaiswal, his son, Kisan Jaiswal, a 48-year-old woman named Shobha Thakur, from Gujarat, who had been falsely represented in hospital records as senior Jaiswal’s wife Rekha Devi, and Bhisen along with two other agents, Bharat Sharma (62), and Iqbal Siddiqui (40).
The agents had charged Rs 25 lakhs for the transplant, out of which Thakur, who worked as a domestic helped in Anand, Gujarat, was to receive Rs 3 lakhs.
According to reports, Jaiswal was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure in 2015 and was on dialysis thrice a week until he decided to go for an illegal transplant. His family had refused to donate kidney for a transplant. It was then that Jaiswal approached an agent in Gujarat, who promised a donor in exchange of R25 lakh. Jaiswal, was released on bail in August on medical grounds. He died on 31 August while being rushed to hospital in Surat.
On 15 July , Maharashtra government suspended the licence of LH Hiranandani Hospital, to conduct organ transplants, putting under scanner all the transplants done by the hospital.
A day later, the police arrested Nilesh Kamble, an organ transplant co-ordinator with LH Hiranandani Hospital. “Kamble was the link between hospital authorities and the mastermind, Bisen. Kamble gave a go-ahead to the kidney transplant after receiving Rs8 lakh for turning a blind eye to the fake doucments,” the report in Hindustan Times said.
But this was not the first illegal transplant. During investigation, Bhishen, emerged as the mastermind of the entire racket. He also admitted of a similar transplant in May. Currently four such cases are under investigation. Bhisen was also arrested by the Mumbai Police as the kingpin of the 2007 kidney racket. A case is pending in a Mumbai court.
The revelation also led to the arrest of 45-year-old Yusuf Diwan, seventh in the case apart from two other who helped forge documents. Further probe from Powai police revealed that Diwan had introduced Bhijendra Bhisen alias Sandeep, to Thakur.
A detailed report by The Indian Express states that a man named Yusuf Shah used to supply prospective donors to Bhisen. Shah's wife had donated a kidney in May, and after that he became a middleman. It was Shah who has helped Thakur get in touch with Bhisen, the report stated. Thakur was the donor arrested during the first arrest in July.
On August 9, after a state health department report pointed to the involvement of hospital, the police arrested LH Hiranandani Hospital's Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sujit Chatterjee, medical director Dr Anurag Naik, Dr Mukesh Shetye, Dr Mukesh Shaha and Dr Prakash Shetye under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, said an India Today report.
According to the report, advocate Abad Ponda appearing for the accused doctors, said, "Police has to show some material to say that the doctors were involved. What Mumbai Police is doing right now is arresting the doctors and then saying that they will produce the evidence later."
The three letters, seized from Kamble may be an answer to that question.
So far, the police has arrested 14 people in connection with the case. The police is also investigating all the transplants mediated by Kamble.