Indian police arrest doctors over ‘organ trade’; Robbers cut hole in train roof in $750,000 heist

MUMBAI: Indian police said yesterday they have arrested the head of an upmarket hospital in Mumbai and four doctors on suspicion of organ trafficking. Police reportedly stopped a kidney transplant procedure at the L H Hiranandani hospital after finding that documents showing the donor was married to the intended recipient were forged. They said the woman giving up her kidney was being paid, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. Organs can only be donated by close relatives or by non-relatives approved by a special committee in India, and buying and selling them is illegal. “We have arrested the chief executive of L H Hiranandani hospital, Sujit Chatterjee, and four doctors,” said Mumbai police spokesman Ashok Dudhe.

They have been remanded in custody until Saturday, he added. It is not the first such case-in June Indian police said they had uncovered an illegal organ donation racket run out of a top New Delhi hospital. That case also involved forged documents showing that the donors and the recipients were related. Staff at the Apollo hospital were arrested, although its management denied any role and said it was the “victim of a well-orchestrated operation to cheat patients and the hospital”. Millions of Indians suffer from kidney disease, mostly because of high rates of diabetes. But a chronic shortage of organs available for transplant has fuelled a black market.

Robbers cut hole in train roof
In another development, a gang of robbers cut a hole in the roof of a train travelling through southern India and stole more than $750,000 in cash, police said yesterday. The daring heist occurred somewhere along the more than 300-kilometre long journey, but the missing loot was only discovered hours after the express train arrived in the city of Chennai. The train’s mail carriage was carrying 3.4 billion rupees ($51 million) belonging to India’s central bank and was being escorted by armed police seated in the next compartment.

Police suspect about six to eight robbers made a four-foot square hole in the carriage roof using a cutting torch before escaping undetected with some of the cash. “We are inquiring with the train guard and the police personnel if they heard any unusual noises on the roof,” said police superintendent P Vijayakumar. Police said the robbers may have jumped off the train roof and were combing the tracks along the route in search of any of the missing notes. “They created a manhole and then they sneaked one after the other and lifted the bundles to the roof before taking them away,” inspector general of police M Ramasubramani, who is heading the investigation said.

Another police officer was quoted in the Hindu newspaper as saying the gang might have hidden themselves in the carriage before it was locked for the journey on Monday night, before escaping through the roof. Reserve Bank of India officials discovered the theft on Tuesday morning when they came to collect the cash from the carriage for disposal. The cash, although still usable, was soiled and was transported from the city of Salem to Chennai for destruction. The audacious crime has echoes of the “Great Train Robbery” of 1963 when a gang of criminals in Britain stopped a night mail train and made off with 2.6 million pounds.- Agencies

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