Fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination drives were conducted at nine locations in Mumbai, including the Hiranandani Heritage Society in Kandivali (suburban Mumbai), whose residents were the first to question the authenticity and validity of the vaccines. Subsequently, complaints were filed by other individuals and organisations. More than 1,000 people were given vaccine shots at these locations.
So far, the Mumbai Police has arrested six persons accused in the scam and filed two FIRs.
After an initial probe, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said the doses given to these residents may have been procured from outside Mumbai as the vaccines were not allotted or delivered by the civic body.
Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray said housing societies must take no objection certificates (NOCs) from the BMC to ensure legitimate vaccination camps.
Here's How the Scam Unfolded:
May 30: The vaccination drive was conducted for 390 residents of the Hiranandani Heritage Society (Kandivali West), which had 435 flats in three towers. The recipients included residents and their staff, including drivers, security guards and domestic helpers.
The residents said they paid around Rs 5 lakh (roughly Rs 1,260 for each dose) to two agents -- Rajesh Pandey and Sanjay Gupta of SP Events. The duo claimed to represent leading private institutions such as the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH) and the Nanavati Hospital.
The residents were promised vaccination certificates within three to four days, but they did not get any.
June 8: When the residents finally got their vaccination certificates, they realised those were generated from different hospitals in the city on different dates. The date mentioned was not May 30, when the vaccination drive was conducted.
When the residents checked the CoWin website, their status was shown as “yet to receive first dose.”
The residents recalled that the vials bore a red stamp saying 'Not for Sale,' and that the team conducting the vaccination drive did not bring laptops.
June 16: The residents of Hiranandani Heritage Society filed complaints with the BMC and the Mumbai Police, PTI had reported.
June 17: BMC directed a deputy municipal commissioner (DMC) to conduct an inquiry. The BMC report said the vaccination camp organised at Hiranandani Heritage Society, Kandivali, did not have its permission and no medical officer was present during the drive.
KDAH said in a statement that Rajesh Pandey was an employee of the hospital, who illegally and without authorisation was involved in the fraudulent activity. Even Nanavati Hospital denied any involvement.
June 18: Ramesh Taurani, founder of Tips Industries Limited, complained that 365 of his employees had got vaccines on May 30 and June 3, but not got certificates. Tips was told that their vaccination certificates will be issued by Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.
Matchbox Pictures also reported that SP Events had organised a vaccination drive for 150 employees on May 29. Kwan Talent reported a similar incident.
Aditya College complained that an event management company had organised a fake vaccination drive on its campus.
June 18: The Kandivali Police arrested Mahendra Pratap Singh (39), Sanjay Gupta (29), Nitin Mode (32) and Lalit alias Chandan Singh (32). The fifth accused, Qareem Akbar Ali (21), was detained from Madhya Pradesh and sent to Mumbai.
The Kandivali Police identified the involvement of a doctor, Manish Tripathi, who ran the KCEP School of Medical and Paramedical Sciences outside Shivam Hospital at Charkop in Kandivli West. Tripathi has been absconding.
June 19: The Versova Police filed a second FIR and arrested the organiser, Sanjay Gupta; but former KDAH employee Rajesh Pandey had filed for anticipatory bail.
BMC Additional Municipal Commissioner (Health) Suresh Kakani said the vaccines could have been brought from outside Mumbai or could be spurious.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)