At least a dozen of villagers of Dakshin Dharamtul in Central Assam's Morigaon district have sold off their kidneys to organ traffickers after being the victims of extreme poverty.
The organ trafficking racket was brought to the attention of the police by the local Village Defence Party (VDP) members, after they caught a mother-son duo and an agent, who had visited the village on Saturday, July 10, in search of potential kidney sellers, NDTV reported.
Lured To Sell Organ On The Pretext Of Donation, Money
The accused lured the villagers into donating their kidneys for the sick and with a promise of paying ₹ 4-5 lakh. The transplant operations were conducted at a Kolkata hospital, which is already accused of illegal transplants.
The racket has been running for nearly four-five years, but cases increased last year as people struggled to meet the ends amid the lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides poverty, the burden of loan repayment, earning a basic livelihood and medical needs drove these people to sell their organs.
VDP Secretary Minu Das informed the media that the party member had been tracking the accused for a while. "People travelled to Kolkata to sell off kidneys. We were tracking this. All this while we were not able to bust this racket," she said, reported NDTV.
Sold For Money
According to the villagers, not many who sold their organs were primarily the victims of poverty but needed easy money. They said the cases unearthed were just one-third of the giant racket running for years.
Morigaon Superintendent of Police Aparna Natarajan said the department is investigating the case to find out the middlemen, recipients, and people who continue to be victims of the traffickers.
Speaking to the media, Sumanta Das, a mason, said he gave his kidney because he needed money to treat his son, who was diagnosed with an Atrial septal defect (a hole in the heart).
The traffickers promised Das ₹5 lakh but received only a fraction of it —₹1.5 lakh. With one organ gone, he struggles to do hard labour and earn a living for the five family members. "Now I have health issues. I can no longer lift heavy stuff and often feel tired," he said, reported NDTV.
Showing their micro-finance loan book, Das's wife, Sabitri, detailed how they are asked to repay the loan and had an agent come home every day. They found selling the organ as the only way out to treat their son and pay off debts.
Das was one of the victims to receive at least a fraction of the amount, while many never got the promised sum despite selling the organs years ago.