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Sunday, May 10, 1998 Published at 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK

World: S/W Asia

Police probe kidney racket

A private hospital just outside Delhi has been closed following the discovery by police of an alleged racket involving the removal of kidneys.

Police say they have arrested 10 people including the owner, and three doctors who worked at the Noida medical centre.

They have been charged with wrongful confinement and endangering the life of a person. The hospital has been closed.

It was a complaint this weekend by a young man living in a Delhi slum which first alerted the police to what was going on at the centre.

Shaukat Ali alleges that a man promised him a job in Singapore, and told him that a medical test was part of the preliminary procedure.

He says he was taken to the hospital, given an anaesthetic, and later woke up to find a scar on his belly.

Mr Ali later discovered that one of his kidneys had been removed. The job in Singapore never materialised.

The police say that Shaukat Ali's experience was very typical.

In the past, there have been many such cases in India where trade in the illegal sale of kidneys flourishes.

Unscrupulous groups of people, often including policemen and telephone operators, entice poor, unemployed men into hospitals with the promise of a job.

Once inside the hospital, one of their kidneys would be removed and sold to rich patients needing a kidney transplant.

According to the BBC's correspondent, kidneys fetch a very high price, particularly from patients in the Middle East.

A small part of the money is sometimes given to the victims to keep them quiet.

In 1994, the Indian government banned all kidney donations, except by immediate relatives of the patient.

But, according to the police, organ crimes still take place.

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