July 4: Kidney wanted. Blood group B+. Both organs of boy rendered inoperative. Will be grateful if a kind-hearted person comes forward. Contact number below.
These lines, which frequent newspaper personal columns and have often been a source of succour, were misused by a gang to run an organ-selling racket.
With the arrest of a man last night from Serampore, police unearthed the racket with links in the city and Chennai. Preliminary investigation revealed the “business” was controlled from Calcutta and adjoining areas.
An alleged agent of the racket was caught red-handed when he came to meet a “donor”. Ramkrishna Samanta from Arambagh was netted when he was making a final deal with donor Raju Roy.
On seeing an advertisement where Samanta’s cellphone number was mentioned, 26-year-old Raju, who worked as a waiter in a restaurant, responded from a phone booth. The owner of the booth overheard their conversation and tipped off the police.
As the youth approached Samanta last night, the police rounded them up.
Samanta said he worked for Laltu Roy, who controlled the racket from Calcutta and Barrackpore. “Laltu issued an advertisement in a newspaper posing as a father looking for a kidney to save his ailing daughter,” said Shankha Subhro Chakroborty, the sub-divisional police officer of Serampore.
During interrogation, 35-year-old Samanta broke down. “I joined the racket a few days ago. My boss had given me a cellphone to contact prospective donors. Normally, a person is paid Rs 1 lakh for a kidney. Besides, a monthly salary of 2,500, I am paid a commission. I take the clients to Chennai, where their kidneys are taken out.”
Armed with Samanta’s statement, the police began a hunt in Barrackpore. “We will conduct raids tonight at other places where Laltu may take refuge,” said an official.
Two years ago, a man was arrested from Calcutta on charges of running a kidney-selling racket. “A middle-aged man from south Calcutta went to Chennai for a hernia operation. After returning, he developed problems. Doctors examined him and found one of his kidneys missing. We initiated a probe and netted the culprit,” said Banibarata Basu, the CID deputy inspector-general who had headed the probe.
Deputy commissioner of the detective department Soumen Mitra said: “The kingpins of such rackets pose as relatives of ailing persons and put out advertisements appealing for organs. The sleuths are checking such ads, posing as donors.”
Investigations revealed that a number of private clinics and nursing homes in and around the city have facilities where kidneys are preserved. “We are screening the nursing homes,” said an officer.