Yesterday I headed out into the field with my assistant Priya looking for hard evidence of the organ trade. Over the last several months I’ve interviewed dozens of people who have sold their kidneys through brokers at the city’s best hospitals and yet the police have continued to do everything they can to not prosecute the case. They say that the 1994 transplantation of human organs act does not empower them to arrest kidney brokers or shut down hospitals. I’ve written on this problem in the past. As usual, the authorities that be will try anything they can not to uphold the law. More on this later.

In our search of two different slum areas Priya and I uncovered documents signed by doctors at Devaki hospital demonstrating that they preformed illegal surgeries. The documents, her health records, show that she used a forged name as well as the dates of the operation, attendants involved in the surgery, lab techs, drawings of her kidney and signatures from both doctors and hospital administrators. In other words, I have the smoking gun.

On the same trip I located the address of a broker living in a northern stretch of the city who lives in a mini-palace and everyone seemed to know who he was. When I asked a local coolie about him I got this reply “Everyone knows him. On this street, all the houses are his.” This leads me to reconsider my assumption for earlier that brokers tend to be poor themselves and are taken advantage of by people higher up on the chain of corruption.

Does anyone care?

Probably not. I went to the police later in the day and told them what I had found and asked them to release some information to me about three brokers they had arrested two months ago. In most countries on earth (including Pakistan which has the same basic legal system) First Information Reports, or FIRs, are available to anyone who asks for them. The reports contain names and addresses of the people arrested as well as the charges they have been brought up on. It is important that these documents are open to the public or the police could arrest anyone they want to and no one would be able to find out about it. When I went the the police station four different officers said they were not obligated to release the FIR to me. Other journalists get FIRs with no problem. Obviously this is one of the prices I pay for being a foreign journalist.

Later when I was speaking to K. Thukkaiandi, IPS who is the Inspector General of Police, Crime he just shook his head and said point blank “I will not give a report to a foreign journalist.” I pressed my case and said I had new information about criminal activity involving the kidney racket.

“We are not interested in prosecuting that case,” he said sternly.

While that is fairly obvious by the way that the police and the corresponding departments in the ministry of health have handled the case so far, I was happy that he gave me at least one transparent piece of information.

I left the station without an FIR, but I have since retained a lawyer and am pressing the issue through the courts.

As for the broker, I will have more information soon.