INDIA. Mumbai: Five persons have been arrested and separate FIRs have been registered with two police stations in connection with a scam of organizing unauthorized COVID-19 vaccinations camps in Mumbai.
A group of around 5 to 7 people recently organized private vaccination camps in different parts of Mumbai, without authorization from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) or any other authority to set up vaccination camps or administer vaccines. They were held in absence of a medical officer.
The five arrested accused are: Mahendra Kuldip Singh (39), Sanjay Gupta (34), Chandan Singh(32), Nitin Mode(32), and Karim Ali( 21). They have been remanded to police custody till June 25. The charges under sections 268 (public nuisance), 270 (a malignant act which is likely to spread infection of any disease dangerous to life), 274 (adulteration of drugs), 275 (sale of adulterated drugs), 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating), 465 (forgery) of Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of IT Act and Epidemic Diseases Act 1897(amended in 2020) have been registered against them.
The FIRs have been registered at Kandivali police station in north Mumbai and Versova police station in northwest Mumbai, against the accused on charges of violating rules and collecting heavy fees from the people. As per the complaint, the organizers gave vaccines to the members from the vials whose seals were already removed. The accused have stated to have organized such camps at least 9 places in Mumbai.
In a complaint submitted to the police, the Hiranandani Heritage Residents Welfare Association (HRWA), a managing body representing three buildings in the residential complex at Kandivli (West), said that a vaccination camp was organized by the residential complex on May 30. But later it was found that the Co-WIN portal did not have any record of the people who were vaccinated and after seven-eight days, about 390 residents of the society began getting messages about their vaccination certificates from two private hospitals — Nanavati Max Super Speciality and Lifeline hospitals, and the BMC–run NESCO Jumbo COVID Centre in Goregaon in north Mumbai, which does not hold vaccination in housing colonies.
The complainant also expressed fears that the vaccine administered could be spurious. The residents were charged Rs.1,260 per jab and none of the beneficiaries had any side effects. The housing society paid the accused Mahendra Kuldip Singh a total of Rs.4.56 lakh.
“We found that Sanjay Gupta and Chandan Singh, both of whom work for private hospitals, used to procure the vaccines, while Karim Ali used to procure the certificates. We are now finding out the sources from where and how the vaccine doses and certificates given to the beneficiaries were procured and whether the Covishield bottles were usable, Babasaheb Salunkhe, Senior Police Inspector, Kandivali police station told the “Transcontinental Times”.
As per the report prepared by the Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Zone 7) Vishwas Shankarwar, the vaccination camp organized at Hiranandani Heritage society had no permission and the entire vaccination was illegal.
In another incident, a similar camp was organized at Aditya College located at Borivali in
north Mumbai on June 3. According to the Aditya College, the camp was organized based on the proposal given by one Rajesh Pandey, who reportedly posed as an event company head and chief manager of sales for the reputed Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH). Pandey’s profile on “Linked In” described him as “ a self-made Professional, having over 24 +years of rich and extensive experience in Business Development in Healthcare with insightful expertise in Market Development, Market Expansion Channel Management, Interpersonal Networking, and Administration. However, the KDAH denied its involvement in such camps. The said Pandey is still at large and a hunt has been launched to nab him.
The second FIR
The second FIR was lodged with the Versova Police on Saturday against the same group that duped residents of the Hiranandani Estate Society, based on a complaint by a film production house-“Matchbox Pictures”, whose 150 employees and their family members were given their first shot of Covishield vaccine on May 29.
“We have registered an FIR. Accused are the same as those arrested by the Kandivali police station. We will take their custody once the investigation by Kandivali Police is over”, Senior Police Inspector Siraj Inamdar of Versova Police Station told the “Transcontinental Times”.
According to the complaint-“Matchbox Pictures”, the vaccine beneficiaries weren’t given any vaccination certificates after they received the jabs. The accused told them that due to a backlog, their certificates would be issued a week later. The beneficiaries soon got worried because none of them experienced any symptoms following the jab. In the meanwhile, the BMC has issued warnings to all people to beware of scamsters taking advantage of the situation.