August 13, 2016 3:19:57 am
The main link between Mumbai Police and the donor who blew the lid off the kidney racket at the L H Hiranandani Hospital in Powai had played a crucial role in exposing a similar racket in 2007 in the city allegedly involving two private hospitals and Chennai doctors.
But Abid Sheikh, who connected donor Sunder Singh and police, continues to live the life of a homeless labourer. In his 30s, Sheikh sleeps inside a tempo van and works at a food stall earning Rs 50 daily.
Sheikh says he came to Mumbai in 2000 and started working as a labourer for daily wages. Seven years later, his friend Deepak Jaiswal confided in him that he had donated his kidney for a large sum of money. “But he was duped, just like Sunder. He agreed to go to the police with me and expose that racket,” says Sheikh. Jaiswal died a few years ago.
Sheikh now claims that Iqbal Khan, an arrested accused in the Hiranandani racket case, was operating even in 2007 from Madanpura in Mumbai, allegedly preparing forged identification documents for donors and recipients. The kingpin of the racket, Brijendra Bisen, was also involved in the racket in 2007 and was arrested by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch and later released on bail.
“Back then, the police was ready to investigate even when we had no documents. This time, it took me one year to gather documents of illegal transplants as proof,” said Sheikh.
Sheikh says he received a tip-off a year ago that Bisen and Khan were handling illegal kidney transplants at the Hiranandani hospital. Sheikh was working with Sunder Singh at a ‘Jhunka Bhakar Kendra’ in Mumbai Central then. But just before Singh was slated to go for a kidney donation on March 17 this year, he cut all links with Sheikh.
It was when Sheikh met Sunder again three months ago that he came to know about the kidney “donation”. “If I knew about it before Sunder gave away his kidney, I would have stopped it,” Sheikh says. Singh told Sheikh and police that he was not paid any amount for the donation, and instead asked to work for Bisen for Rs 500 per day.
According to police, Singh’s job allegedly involved coordinating between patients and staff at Hiranandani hospital, and transferring forged documents between Khan, Bisen and hospital staff. Sheikh said that he started convincing Singh to provide him with documents of various transplants he had helped Bisen in.
On July 13, a day before recipient Brijkishore Jaiswal was due to receive donor Shobha Thakur’s kidney, Singh handed over documents related to the last four transplants to Sheikh. Sheikh then took the help of the Indian Trade Union Congress to approach police and bust the racket. Sheikh now worries for his life, and has stopped keeping a cell phone to avoid being traced. He won’t even reveal details of his native village, fearing that his family would be harmed. He claims he was paid Rs 7 lakh for busting the racket in 2007. This time, he is still waiting for “some reward”.
On Tuesday, Mumbai police arrested five medical professionals, including the CEO and medical director of Hiranandani hospital, in connection with the kidney racket. They have been accused of alleged involvement in the illegal trade and sale of kidneys.
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