The Amritsar body-swapping case is deeply disturbing and the allegations of transplant of organs of Covid-19 patients to other patients are alarming. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has done well to take note of the matter that it describes as ‘an inhumane and barbaric act’. Underpinning the urgency of getting to the bottom of the goings-on, the HC has laudably taken away the investigation into the case from the SDM-level officer who is already burdened with administrative duties and transferred it to the Amritsar Police Commissioner, giving him a deadline for the work. Perhaps, the haze will be lifted by the end of the one-month period that the commissioner has to look into the affair.
Two brothers were shocked to find that the body handed over to them by an Amritsar-based hospital was that of a woman, not of their father, a Covid-19 patient. But to their further agony, both came to know that the dead woman’s relatives had already cremated the body that they received — presumed to be that of the duo’s father — without checking it. Optimistic that their father could still be alive at the hospital, the brothers moved the court.
Though their sanguinity turned out to be misplaced, the sordid saga pointed to a possible organ transplantation racket thriving in the hospital. The insinuation cannot be brushed aside easily, for it stems from the region’s history of the prevalence of an organised racket of kidney transplantations, with certain hospitals, doctors and middlemen forming a flourishing nexus to supply organs to rich clients. The allegations that organs of Covid-19 fatalities are being transplanted to unsuspecting patients looking for a lifeline should be probed thoroughly. This must be the guiding factor for the officer as he tries to unravel the case. It also needs to be ascertained if there was dereliction of duty by the hospital staff. It is vital, as the High Court judge said, that the system ‘be cleaned and brushed up, restoring the faith of the common man in the system’.