Several Facebook and Twitter users have shared three images along with the viral Hindi text, “Merit holder sold kidney on the pretext of coronavirus. Police nabbed the ‘cruel’ doctor Devender Sharma who murdered over 100 and fed them to crocodiles. The illegal kidney transplant gang transplanted kidney for 125 people in Jaipur, Ballabgarh and Gurugram.”
Uttar Pradesh Jan Adhikar Party (Loktantrik) member Virendra Prajapati’s post received over 500 shares on Facebook. (archived link) He also shared a news report about ‘Dr Devender Sharma’ arrested in a kidney racket.
The complete message reads, “मेरिट धारी कारोना बीमारी के नाम पर कीडनिया निकाल कर बेचता था. पुलिस के हत्थे चढ़ा 100 से ज्यादा मर्डर करने वाला ‘दरिंदा ‘ डॉक्टर देवेंद्र शर्मा हत्या कर मगरमच्छ को खिलाता था लाशें अवैध किडनी ट्रांसप्लांट करने वाले गिरोह में शामिल हो कर जयपुर बल्लभगढ़ और गुरुग्राम में 125 लोगों की किडनी ट्रांसप्लांट करवाईं.”
Similarly, a Twitter user shared (archived link) these images. It was retweeted over 200 times.
Alt News received several requests to fact-check this on WhatsApp (+917600011160) and on our official Android application.
Alt News performed a keyword search ‘Dr Devender Sharma kidney’ and found multiple media reports. As per a report in The Indian Express, published on July 30, 2020, Sharma, an Ayurveda doctor, allegedly masterminded 50 murders of taxi drivers in the early 2000s. The report added that Sharma also ran illegal kidney transplant racket in the 1990s with a network spread across Jaipur, Ballabgarh and Gurgaon. Sharma and his associates used to dump bodies in a canal infested with crocodiles to get rid of the evidence. He was arrested on July 29, six months after he jumped parole while serving a life sentence at the central jail in Jaipur.
India Times reported that Sharma was released on parole for 20 days in January this year after spending 16 years in jail. He skipped parole and stayed at his village for a while before moving to Delhi in early March.
Alt News spoke with DCP (Crime Branch) Rakesh Paweriya. He confirmed, “There is no COVID-19 angle to Sharma’s case.” Paweriya added, “Sharma is serving a life sentence for the past 16 years at Jaipur’s central jail. In January, he had jumped his parole and was recently rearrested.”
As per media reports, this incident isn’t linked with COVID-19. Alt News performed a reverse image search on two of the viral images — a man in a yellow t-shirt surrounded by five men wearing protective masks and an image of a kidney. The former has been used by multiple media outlets including The Hindu and The Outlook on July 30. As per the reports, the man in the yellow t-shirt is Sharma.
The reverse image search of the second image led us to an article by Fox News. As per the article, “Doctors in the United Kingdom readying to perform a kidney transplant on a young girl noticed the organ they were preparing to use had an unusual abnormality: Five renal arteries.”
The news report shared with these images was published by Jagran, a Hindi news platform.
Thus, social media claim that Devender Sharma ran an illegal kidney racket on the pretext of COVID-19 is false. Sharma was arrested on July 29 after he jumped his parole. Last month, another false claim of organ trading linked with coronavirus deaths was debunked by Alt News.