Mumbai: The Kandivali Police arrested four men and detained one, between late on Thursday and Friday morning, in connection to the 'fraud' vaccination drive undertaken in a residential society on May 30.
The police have arrested the master mind of the racket, Mahendra Pratap Singh (39) and three others, Sanjay Gupta (29), Nitin Mode (32) and Lalit alias Chandan Singh (32). The fifth accused, Qareem Akbar Ali (21), has been detained from Madhya Pradesh and is being brought to Mumbai. The police are still on the lookout for other people who might be involved in the racket.
Police said that the vaccination drive was conducted without any authorized permission from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the accused had stolen the hospital IDs.
According to police sources, the residents had allegedly approached Rajesh Pandey, employee of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, to enquire about the vaccination drive in their residential complex and he gave them the reference of a middleman. Pandey, then allegedly approached the mastermind, Mahendra Pratap Singh (39), and got in touch with his aide, Sanjay Gupta (29), who organized the vaccination drive.
Dilip Sawant, Additional Commissioner of Police (North) said that the vaccination camp organized at Hiranandani Heritage was unauthorised and preliminary enquiries revealed the vaccines were not brought from authorized sources. The mastermind, Mahendra, who has worked with a medical association for over 17 years as a clerk, is a 10th fail and was in touch with a number of hospitals and doctors. He contacted a doctor, who is yet not arrested, connected him to the other two arrested accused-- Nitin Mode (32) and Lalit alias Chandan Singh (32), who used the hospital credentials in the CoWIN application without authorisation.
Police officials said that Sanjay and Mahendra hired nursing students from a Charkop-based training institution to administer the shots and no authorised doctor was present, which is in clear violation of the BMC guidelines for vaccination drives in residential complexes.
The fifth accused, Qareem Akbar Ali (21), who is being brought to Mumbai, was the carrier of the vaccination vials. The police said that he would be able to ascertain where the vaccines were procured from. Sawant said that vaccines were not brought from authorised centers.
Police said that certificates received by the residents from the CoWIN portal had correct beneficiaries names but incorrect time, location and hospital name. The same gang has conducted similar vaccination camps at nine different locations. The police, who are working with the BMC to conduct a parallel investigation, are awaiting the report from the BMC in connection to the matter.