An Indian woman had her kidney stolen by her husband and her in-laws after she failed to pay the promised dowry.

Rita Sarkar, a resident of West Bengal, India, was taken to a private hospital by her husband, Biswajit Sarkar, when she complained of stomach pain a couple of years ago, the New Indian Express reported. 

However, even after getting treated for appendicitis, Rita’s pain persisted. Although Rita begged her husband to take her to a doctor to treat her increasing pain, her husband refused to heed her requests. As the pain became unbearable, Rita was taken to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri, West Bengal, three months ago, which is when she and her family came to know that one of her kidneys were missing.

Having no knowledge of how she ended up missing her right kidney, Rita got herself rechecked at another private hospital where the fact that one of her organs was surgically removed, was reaffirmed.

“My husband had warned me not to disclose anything about the surgery in Kolkata to anyone,” Rita said. “Now, I understand why he forbade me to reveal anything. He and his family tortured me during the past 12 years of marriage for dowry and when my family failed to meet their demands, they sold my kidney.”

Furious about what transpired without her consent, Rita filed a complaint with the Farakka police station in Malda district, which led to arrest of Rita’s husband and his brother Shyamal Sarkar. Rita’s mother-in-law, who is believed to have taken part in the crime, is currently on the run from the police.

The accused have admitted to selling off Rita’s kidney to an organ merchant in Chhattisgarh, India. However, they did not admit the act was in connection with the issue of the dowry.

Nevertheless, Rita maintained that her husband “sold my kidney because my family couldn't meet his demand for dowry." She also alleged that she has had to endure domestic abuse at the hands of her in-laws after she failed to pay a dowry of two lakh Indian rupees (around $3100), BBC reported. 

Both Biswajit and Shyamal were charged under Section 19 (punishment for commercial dealings of human organs) and Section 21 (offences by companies involved in any such act) of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act and Section 307 (attempt to murder) and Section 498 (detaining a married woman with criminal intent) of the Indian Penal Code.

The police was preparing to raid the hospital where the illegal operation was performed and suspects a kidney smuggling racket was behind the incident. 

While the literal meaning of "dowry" is material things or assets brought by the bride to her in-law’s house after marriage, the exact value of the dowry is often negotiated by the groom and his family in many cases — which is illegal. Payment of dowry was banned by the Indian government in 1961.

However, the anti-dowry law is often undermined in certain rural areas of India, where crimes related to the age-old practice are still seen.