The Delhi Police on Friday seized over 450 oxygen concentrators during raids at multiple locations across the Capital, The Times of India reported. The crackdown on illegal hoarding came amid an acute shortage of the medical equipment, which is crucial for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
During these raids, 96 oxygen concentrators were seized from New Delhi’s popular eatery Khan Chacha in south Delhi’s Khan Market area, reported News18. The police said 419 machines were recovered during a search operation at the city’s Lodhi Colony area, the police said. This operation was reportedly the biggest seizure in the city amid the pandemic.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Atul Thakur told the newspaper that the seizure began from the city’s Nege & Ju Bar. “During verification, we found that the restaurant is owned by Navneet Kalra,” Thakur said.
Kalra, who was absconding, owns a chain of businesses, including Khan Chacha and Dayal Opticals.
“During area patrolling, suspicious activity was noted at the outlet which was found open,” Thakur said. “When enquired, a person was found working on a laptop and handling orders of oxygen concentrators by ‘Xpect Everything online portal’. During search of the premises, 32 boxes of concentrators having capacity of 9 litres and 5 litres were seized.”
A first information report was registered and four people – Hitesh Prakash, Gaurav Singh, Satish Sethi and Vikrant Singh – were arrested during the raids, reported The Indian Express. The oxygen concentrators were being sold at Rs 70,000 each.
The accused were booked under Indian Penal Code sections of cheating, Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act.
During interrogation, the accused told the Delhi Police about a warehouse in Chattarpur’s Khullar farm, where 387 units of equipment were stored. The police are expected to conduct more raids to stop illegal hoarding and black-marketing of equipment.
The Delhi High Court had on Thursday said the moral fabric of the public had been dismantled after taking note of illegal activities such as hoarding and black-marketing of supplies even as India dealt with a severe second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The national Capital’s healthcare infrastructure has been in shambles ever since the second wave led to an unprecedented rise in daily infections. Multiple hospitals in the city were forced to approach courts to ensure they received supplies of medical oxygen to save lives of Covid-19 patients.
The country on Friday recorded 4,14,188 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally of infections in the country to 2,14,91,598 since the pandemic broke out last year. This is the highest rise in daily cases and the third instance, after May 1, when the count rose by more than 4 lakh. The toll climbed by 3,915 deaths to 2,34,083.