Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the wall in front of Eyepex Mall in Naya Baneshwar of Kathmandu would feature colourful movie posters. It looks desolate these days.
On Wednesday last week, however, there was an advertisement, albeit very unattractive that people can easily miss noticing. A plain white A4 sheet with three words and 10 digits: ‘Mirgaula chaema… Samparka’ followed by his phone number. Those who noticed the paper understood the first two words, even though they were wrongly spelt, meant ‘If you want a kidney… Then, there was a phone number.
We called him the next day.
The man who was advertising his kidney on sale was Jagabire Guru Dhami, of Dhurchanna, Dhangadhi of Kailali district. Dhami, 33, was short in height. This man with curly, coloured hairs had no signs of worry on his face. When asked where and how many posters he posted, he said he reached 30 to 35 places around the valley, including Baneshwar, Balkumari, Kalanki and Teku. “I had plans to go to Bhaktapur also but could not.”
He took out a marker, a glue pot, and a glue stick from his pockets. Pointing to the glue stick he said, “I bought this when the liquid glue did not work.”
He received some calls after he put up those posters. He believes one of them was an organ racketeer. “A person had come to meet me, but I could not understand how and why. He asked me for my personal details and said he would call me later. But, I haven’t received any call from him.”
The trade of human organs is illegal in Nepal. The Human Body Organ Transplantation (Regulation and Prohibition) Act criminalises the purchase and sale of organs. But, what makes people like Dhami advertise to sell their organs?
Article 14 (a) of the Act states only two conditions for organ donation. First, the donor must be a relative of the patient. Second, in case of organ transplantation to others, if the organ of a close family member cannot be transplanted and the organ sought to be transplanted matches with another family member, only one member of another family can donate on mutual consent. between the two families. A person involved in organ removal in other conditions would be sentenced to five years in jail and would be fined Rs 500,000.
Dhami said he was in financial trouble and could think of no other choice than to sell his kidney. He had also consulted some friends about selling a kidney. “They scolded me saying I was trying to put them in jail,” he said. “But, I do not see other alternatives.”
He said he used to run a meat shop, then a grocery shop in Panga, Kirtipur, but when the shops did not benefit him well, he sought a loan and set up a fast-food restaurant near the Kathmandu airport. But, that also did not work. He sought more loans and established a fast-food shop in Balkumari. He asserted that he went broke after selling the restaurant and paying his rents.
After coming to Kathmandu, he said, he had an affair with a Tamang girl of Mahadevbensi in Dhading. He accused her of spending all his money before going incommunicado around four months back.
Dhami said that he has taken loans with interest up to 40 per cent from different people around his house in Kailali and those who came to Kathmandu from there.
When asked whether he thought that he would get enough money to clear his debts by ‘selling a kidney’, he answered, “I do not know what amount I will get. I didn’t even think that 2-2.5 million rupees would come. I used to overhear people saying that if I find a good person, I would get handsome pay. But, If I sell my kidney to a person like us, I would not even get 400,00-500,000 rupees.”
Many people are now going viral because of their grief and interviews on YouTube, which would get them financial aids also. Asked if he has a similar intention, he said, “I didn’t think so. I didn’t even try to do that.”
Then, why did he plan an illegal deed? “What is the other solution to my problem? Even if I sell my house in Kailali, it will not get me more than Rs 50,000 because the land is partly owned by the government.”
He has parents and children in his home. His brothers live separately. He said he could not return home as he is not taken well in his house. “I have been told not to come home,” said Dhami. “They insist I have to pay my debts on my own.”
Many have lost their jobs after the Covid-19 pandemic hit Nepal. Some businesses have collapsed. We thought that Dhami might be in a similar predicament. But, he was not. When we said that he was in trouble for his own reasons, he replied, “What would I do? My partner did not support me well.”
When asked what he would do if he could not sell his kidney, he seemed optimistic, “Well, why not? I am looking forward to selling my kidney if possible.”
The police call
A few hours after he posted the advertisement in various places, some personnel at the Metropolitan Police Range telephoned him. “They said they were the police from Teku,” said Dhami. “They said I should take out all the posters. I replied that I have no options, and I will not.”
SSP Shyam Gyawali, the chief of the Kathmandu Metropolitan Police range, said his office had contacted Dhami, requesting him to take out the posters after receiving information about his advertisement. Gyawali told Onlinekhabar that DSP Sudhir Raj Shahi was assigned to investigate the issue.
“When we realised he had done so due to financial problems, we immediately made him tear up the posters,” said Gyawali. “If he repeats this, we will take legal action in coordination with the Anti-Human Trafficking Bureau. We have warned him for now.”
Dhami currently lives in Kalanki. He said he had not had food for three days. “A journalist gave me around Rs 400 and I was able to eat yesterday.”
Asked why did not look for any job, he said, “Because of the lockdown. A contractor had called. But, as a mason, I will earn 500 to 600 rupees a day, which would just be enough for my food and rent. But, then, how will I pay back my loan?”
Photos: Aryan Dhimal