In the heart of Gujarat, an international kidney racket has been thriving for years. The matter came to light after one of the victims confided in police last week that he was lured into selling his vital organs.
Anand district’s Pandoli probably has the highest number of people living with only one kidney in a village. Around 80 people, according to villagers, have been either coerced or coaxed into selling their kidneys for some quick cash.
According to police, Amirmiya Malek, the 27-year-old father of two, was lured into trading off his kidney on the promise that he would get Rs 12 lakh for the same.
The small-time cattle trader approached his friend Rafik and sought a loan from him to pay off his debts. Rafik apparently dissuaded him from taking a loan. Instead, he coaxed Amirmiya into selling his kidney.
The needy man took the bait and agreed to go to Delhi where the kidney would be pulled out of his body by the organ mafia. So one fine day, he left home for Delhi without inform his family.
When Amirmiya didn’t return home for days, his family filed a missing complaint with the police despite Rafik’s repeated attempts to convince them against taking “such a small matter” to police. He kept reassuring that Amirmiya will be back soon.
The kidney racket was exposed when the man confided in a family friend last week.
Salma, wife of Amirmiya, said: “My husband went outstation for some work for 10 days. After his return, when a friend of my father-in-law asked what was wrong with him, my husband confided in him. He eventually told us that he has sold his kidney.”
The cattle trader is not the only victim of the kidney racket. Like Amirmiya, Arvind Gohel (28) was also going through a financial crisis, so he approached Rafik for a loan.
Seeing a potential victim in him, Rafik convinced Arvind saying: “What is the need to beg for help when you can get that money on your own”, apparently hinting at selling one of his kidneys.
Aware of the dire need of money in the family, Arvind walked into the trap of the kidney racket. In January, he disappeared from home only to return after a month with Rs 2.25 lakh cash in hand. He used the amount to pay off the pending medical bills incurred during the treatment of his sister-in-law.
Hemaben Gohel, the sister-in-law of Arvind, says: “I was very sick and was undergoing treatment for a condition affecting my lungs at a private hospital. We didn't have money to foot the medical bills, so my brother-in-law took this extreme step to clear the amount. We were not aware about his plans to sell off his kidney to bail us out of the mess. It was only when he returned home after the operation, we got to know about this.”
The organ mafia has developed a strong network of agents that helps them identify and lure people into selling off their vital organs in Anand, around 80 km from Ahmedabad.
Bannumiya Malek, father of Amir, says: “My son was lured into the trap by Rafik and he went to Anand town with him. When my friend asked him to reveal the truth, he narrated his story and showed scars-caused by the operation. Of the total amount, he cleared around Rs 1 lakh debt and set up fixed deposits of Rs 50,000 each in the name of his two nieces.”
Like Amirmiya, police have identified 13 others who had sold their kidneys and arrested three organ racket agents in this connection. Six of the victims, according to police, were taken to Colombo for illegal kidney transplant.
Jagdish Solanki, head of Pandoli village, said: “The organ racket has been running in the area since 2001. Police have identified only 13 victims, but there are many more in the village who have sold their kidneys illegally. They should do a proper investigation into this.”
The main agent would pay the mutually agreed amount for “organ donation” after the operation. The victims were allowed to return home once the wound healed.
“In last 15 years, around 80 youth have sold their kidneys for money. Victims confided in me that they were taken to an unknown place near Delhi and Telangana where one kidney from their body was removed and sold.”
Deputy superintendent of police Ashok Kumar Yadav confirmed the arrest of three people, including a AYUSH doctor Mukesh Chaudhary of Valsad. “The three have been running the kidney racket in the village. A special investigation (SIT) and a medical team have been set up to investigate if the racket is spread in other parts of the state.”
Sri Lanka Link
The police have recovered six passports from kidney scandal victims and exposed the racket’s Sri Lanka connections.
The victims were taken to the civil hospital in Ahmedabad for medical examination where doctors confirmed that the left kidney had been removed from all 13 of them.
This revelation has shaken the family members of the victims. “How my husband would do the hard work now? Who would provide for a family of 13? What will become of my daughters if something happens to him,” wondered Salma.