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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gorakhpur's blood extracting racket busted

It is strange post but true in every sense and word. This news is from Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh, Indian State where human life of poors have no value. IT HAD BEEN a bad spell for Madhubani painter Hari Kamat, and it was about to get worse. Having had almost no sales for a year, he left his village in Bihar to look for a job and ended up in Gorakhpur, 200 km from Lucknow. He was offered a job as soon as he stepped down from the bus. Two months later, he was fired for no apparent reason. Local “friends” told him they would get him another and better job — all he had to do was go for a blood test. When the results returned, he was told the quality of his blood was so good he needn’t look for regular employment, but could make a living selling his blood, earning somewhere between Rs 500-1000 per unit.

Hari had no way of knowing he was about to fall victim to a well-organised blood trade centred around Gorakhpur’s numerous private hospitals and clinics. A short while later, he was to find himself along with 16 others — 25- to 40-year-old men from across north India — imprisoned in a slum in Shahpur, two km from the Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College. For two-and-a-half years, the men were kept there, fed twice a day, and made to give blood thrice a week. Protest was impossible — the constant depletion of their blood had made them too weak.

The racket was exposed on April 16, when the police raided a house in Chorpuwa slum where one of the victims had been severely thrashed for trying to escape. “It was like a dairy where cows and buffaloes are milked twice a day in return for fodder,” says Gorakhpur Cantonment Circle Officer Viswajeet Srivastava, who is in charge of the case. “The victims told us they had voluntarily sold their blood in the beginning, but later they had been confined and their blood forcibly extracted. They also said that instead of the Rs 500 per day they had been promised, they were paid only Rs 150.”

Ten people involved in the racket have been arrested so far, including Pappu Yadav, in whose house the victims were kept. Jayant Sarkar, who did all the networking with the clinics and the nursing homes, is still absconding. “All the victims had haemoglobin levels less than 4g/dl as against the 15g/dl found in a normal adult male,” says Dr Suresh Mishra of the Civil Hospital where the rescued were admitted. Among them was Durga Prasad who weighed only 21 kilos when he was found. Raju Mohanti, whose blood group is the rare A negative, says his blood was extracted 16 times a month. According to Red Cross norms, an adult can donate blood not more than once in two months. Ramu Sahu, a graduate from Patna University was told he would be paid Rs 200 a day. Like Rustam Khan, who wanted to raise money for his daughter’s wedding, he now knows only too well the depth of how he was duped.

A couple of lab assistants trained in blood transfusion, lower-level hospital staff, touts and local goons comprised this gang that made its living selling the blood of its unemployed and/or illiterate victims. They tracked migrant labourers and job aspirants at the railway and bus stations, and got them temporary jobs to make their goodwill seem genuine. After a month or two, they would get them fired and lure them into selling their blood. Meanwhile, a web of touts around the city’s major hospitals, including the BRD Medical College, Star Nursing Home, Civil Hospital and Anandlok hospital, kept track of patients in dire need of blood.

According to Srivastava, “After a sale, the touts would direct the relatives to take the blood to Mahanagar Diagnostic Centre. There the blood received a stamp, legalising the illegal practice, something the patients’ attendants fail to notice in their hurry to obtain the blood.”

TEHELKA went undercover to Gorakhpur, with its correspondent posing as the relative of a patient who had met with a grave accident. Speaking to a guard at the BRD Medical College, we were told we could buy blood outside Star Nursing Home. When we claimed our inability to do so, he agreed to arrange a unit of blood for Rs 1,200 “on humanitarian grounds”, as opposed to the Rs 96 that is the government rate.

THE GUARD later took us to a middle-aged tout, who called up a person he addressed as Master, apparently a known name in the circle (see box for transcript). We were able to contact Master later, and got to know that he was an ambulance driver. He told us that all four of his “boys” were underground that day because the health minister was visiting the city, but that he would be able to sell us a unit the next morning. full post can be read on tehlka.com follow this link