Delhi Police seize 170 oxygen concentrators; arrest 4 for hoarding;
A total of 170 oxygen concentrators, two luxury cars – Audi and Mercedes – were seized from four persons, including two brothers, who have been arrested for their alleged involvement in hoarding and black marketing of oxygen concentrators, important life-saving equipment in huge demand in Delhi because of their use in saving lives of Covid patients, and hence the shortage, police said.
The arrested persons were selling each oxygen concentrator on prices ranging between ₹90,000 and Rs1.1 lakh, nearly double its retail price. Two of the arrested persons are said to be distributors of such equipment. The total worth of the seized concentrators as per the average market price is between ₹85 lakh and ₹90 lakh. The alleged racketeers would have earned between Rs1.53 crore and ₹1.87 crore, more than double their investment, had they managed to sell the machines in black market, the police said.
Deputy commissioner of police (north district) Anto Alphonse said that in view of the prevailing Covid-19 emergency situation in the city, apart from facilitating hospitals with their oxygen supply, the district police have also been keeping a vigil on black marketeers. The police have also been monitoring SOS messages for such items on social media.
The police received a complaint on Twitter that oxygen concentrators are being sold for ₹95,000 each at Mittal’s Store in Shastri Nagar, Delhi. The complaint also had the mobile number of the supplier, said DCP Alphonse. “In view of the gravity of the allegations and sensitivity of the matter, several teams of the district were assigned the task,” he said.
The teams put the mobile number on electronic surveillance and it was found to be registered in a woman’s name in Shastri Nagar. The person using the mobile number constantly changed his location and did not respond to calls, the police said.
“Our teams continued conducting raids for two days and eventually arrested Pawan Mittal,34, with two oxygen concentrators and two adapters on Wednesday,” said the DCP.
After interrogation, he accepted that he tried to sell each concentrator between ₹90,000 and ₹1.1 lakh, depending upon the desperation of the customer, senior police officers associated with the operation said.
DCP Alphonse said Mittal revealed that he purchased the oxygen concentrators from Himanshu Khurana, who runs a shop in Sadar Bazar. Khurana,26, was arrested and he disclosed that the distributors and suppliers of the equipment were two brothers – Himanshu Handa, 34, and Ayush Handa, 28, -- from Delhi’s Model Town Part-3.
“Our special staff team conducted a raid at the two brothers’ under construction building in Model Town and seized 168 oxygen concentrators along with the same number of adapters from its basement, where they had hoarded them. We also seized their two luxury cars – Audi and Mercedes – as some machines were kept in them and they were using the vehicles to transport and deliver the equipment to Mittal and Khurana,” said DCP Alphonse.
The police said they were interrogating the two brothers to ascertain the source through which they procured the oxygen concentrators in bulk.
On Tuesday, the Delhi Police asked its personnel to activate their human intelligence network, keep a close watch on social media posts, visit scrap godowns, and use decoy customers to trap hoarders fleecing Covid patients and their kin by demanding hefty sums for a single cylinder, oxygen concentrator or medicine vial. It came on the day the Delhi high court pulled up the AAP-led Delhi government, and said the government’s entire system has failed as black marketing of oxygen cylinders and crucial medicines is rampant.