Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Phulbani, Jul 7:
A month after announcing a Crime Branch inquiry into the sensational case of kidney sale in Phulbani district, the Odisha government has done a volte-face on the issue by entrusting the probe back to the district police.
On July 3, the state government has sent an official letter to the district collector regarding handing over of the inquiry to the district police.
In the letter to Kandhamal Collector, the Additional Secretary of Health and Family Welfare department has mentioned, citing a government notification dated 31/07/2014, that any OIC of a police station can investigate alleged kidney sale complaints. Besides, a Crime Branch officer of the rank of Inspector or above can also investigate the case. In case there are no complaints, administrative inquiry report could be admitted as an FIR.
Going by this, an FIR has been filed with the Town police station based on the findings of a joint report by Phulbani Sub Collector and SDPO. A case has been registered (168/2015) under section 18, 20, 21 and 90/94 under Kidney Sale and Donation Act.
The joint report was submitted to Kandhamal District Collector on June 1. On the same day, the Collector Yamini Sarangi had forwarded the report to the state government.
As per reports, Town PS IIC Umakanta Pradhan has been entrusted with the inquiry and statements of eight persons including Kanhu Behera have been recorded.
After receipt of the probe report a month ago, Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak and Secretary Arati Ahuja had told the media that Crime Branch would probe the sensational kidney sale allegations in the state. Now, the government has handed over the investigation to the district police citing the government notification, raising many eyebrows.
The announcement of Crime Branch inquiry into the alleged incident had raised hopes of foiling the suspected international organ racked active in the state.
It may be recalled that Kanhu Behera from Phulbani had undergone an operation for organ transplant at Candy in Sri Lanka on March 24. After the transplant, Kanhu was brought to Brahmapur and kept in the house of Mahendra Patnaik, the organ receiver, for some days for recuperation before being sent back to his rented house at Phulbani.
After a series of reports were published in the media, Mahendra had claimed that there was no illegality in the organ transplant as Kanhu had donated his kidney with his consent. He had further added that Mahendra’s mother had adopted him. Besides, his surname was changed to Patnaik through an affidavit. He is now Kanhu Patnaik from Kanhu Behera.
Mahendra had further said that initially Kanhu’s father, Barun, had agreed to donate kidney. However, his organ was incompatible with him. So Kanhu came forward voluntarily to donate his kidney. As he was battling with life, he accepted Kanhu’s proposal. Both the families agreed to this after which Mahendra’s mother accepted Kanhu as her adopted son.
Post Kanhu’s operation in the island nation in the first week of April, the family was given Rs 3.5 lakh, he had said.