Mahakumbh Covid testing scam: 60,000 numbers verified, SIT close to 1st arrest
The committee probing alleged fake Covid-19 tests conducted during Mahakumbh in Haridwar said it had completed verification of about 60,000 phone numbers of visitors, who the laboratories under scanner claimed to have tested for the infection during the mega religious event earlier this year. Meanwhile the Uttarakhand Police, which is also investigating the alleged scam, said it was about to make its first arrest in the case in the next couple of days.
The probe committee led by chief development officer (CDO) of Haridwar, Saurabh Gaharwar, said another 35,000 phone numbers remained to be verified and the process was likely to take 10 more days to complete. However, he refused to reveal any detail from the investigations conducted so far.
Gaharwar led committee earlier questioned the representatives of the agency named Max Corporate Services which had subcontracted testing to two laboratories-- Nalwa Laboratories and Dr Lal Chandani Laboratories. They labs claimed to have conducted about 1.50 lakh tests but have been marred by allegations that they had made up the figures by including fake and fudged data such as contact numbers and Aadhaar card numbers.
The Gaharwar committee is examining the phone numbers in its investigation to find out the number of actual fake tests conducted.
“We had to verify about one lakh phone numbers mentioned in the tests. Of that, we have completed verifying 60,000 phone numbers while about 35,000 are still left,” said CDO Gaharwar. He added that the verification would take at least 10 days to complete.
Meanwhile, the special investigation team (SIT) of the Haridwar district police, which is also probing the case, said it was likely to make the first arrest in the next few days.
“The SIT has gathered many details after questioning the accused involved and examining the documents. With to the findings so far, it is somewhat sure that a scam had happened in the Covid-19 tests to siphon off money from the administration by the testing laboratories in a fraudulent manner,” said one of the officers in the SIT, who was privy to the probe details but didn’t wish to be quoted.
“The SIT would soon make its first arrest in the next few days with the accused from one of the testing laboratories,” said the official.
Haridwar’s senior superintendent of police Senthil Avoodai K Raj refused to confirm anything, but said, “The SIT is probing all the angles of the alleged scam by questioning different people. It will soon be completed.”