India

India kidney racket 'leader' arrested

Stitches of man who sold his kidney Archive picture
Image caption A shortage of transplant organs is fuelling a lucrative black market trade in body parts in India

Indian police say they have arrested the suspected leader of an illegal human kidney trading gang in one of the country's leading private hospitals.

T Rajkumar Rao was held in the eastern city of Kolkata (Calcutta) on Tuesday.

Police say he led a gang that lured poor people to sell their kidneys, which were then sold for huge profits.

Eight people, including five employees of Delhi's Apollo Hospital, were earlier arrested in connection with the case.

The hospital has denied any role in the illegal trade, saying it has been a "victim of a well-orchestrated operation to cheat patients and the hospital".

It has also set up a panel to look into the existing system for organ transplants at the hospital.

It is believed that the suspected gang members forged papers to dupe doctors into operating on people in the belief that they were donating the kidneys to their relatives.

"He [Rao] was arrested from Kolkata," police officer Nidhin Walson told AFP news agency.

Mr Rao will be produced in court on Wednesday. A police officer in Kolkata said he was wanted in connection with similar cases across a number of South Asian countries.

On Tuesday, police arrested three donors, including a couple, who had sold their kidneys to alleged gang members to pay off a loan.

A chronic shortage of transplant organs is fuelling a lucrative black market trade in body parts across India.

More on this story