In a shocking incident, a fraudulent Covid-19 vaccination drive was conducted at a posh housing society in Kandivali in May end, a top police official said on Friday. The Hiranandani Residents Welfare Association of the posh Hiranandani Heritage Society in Kandivali west had lodged the complaint with the local police on Wednesday.
In a major breakthrough, the Mumbai Police on Friday arrested five persons in this connection.
The society management had organised a private vaccination camp for its residents and in-house staffers like security personnel, drivers or domestic helpers on May 30.
Of the 435 flats in three residential towers, around 390 residents had been inoculated during the drive that day, but belatedly realized that they may have been cheated.
Additional Commissioner of Police, Mumbai North Region, Dilip Sawant said that no permission of the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had been taken for the private vaccination camp conducted at the society.
After the society's complaint, the police moved swiftly and managed to arrest five persons -- Mahendra Kuldeep Singh, 39, Sanjay Gupta, 25, Chandan Singh, 32, Karim Akber Ali, 21 and Nitin More, 32 -- within 72 hours.
"So far, we have picked up five persons, including four from Mumbai and one from a railway station at Madhya Pradesh, who is being brought here for the probe," Sawant said.
The shaken residents said that a facilitator claiming to represent the reputed Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (KDAH) had negotiated to provide 400 vaccine doses for Rs 1,260 each and around Rs 5 lakh was paid to him.
However, the KDAH management has already denied that the society had approached them and advised people to be careful, even as the police and BMC launched separate investigations.
The residents suspected something amiss when they did not get the Covid Vaccination Certificates (CVC) immediately after the dose, but some of them started getting their CVCs in early June, and none of them reported the usual side-effects post-vaccination.
Sawant said that there were errors of the vaccination date, timings, and venue, there was no doctor present which is mandatory, etc and after the residents realised that they were duped, they sought police help.
He said that the accused are suspected to have stolen the identities of various hospitals, and the vaccines were not procured from any authorised sources, while some society members are worried about what was administered to them in the name of vaccines.
After the fraud erupted this week, the Mumbai Police are now probing whether the same group or other unauthorised persons have conducted similar illegal vaccination camps in other housing complexes.
The BMC said that no permission was given to the society for the inoculation and urged the people to adhere to the civic body's norms and verify all claims to guard against falling prey to such fraudsters.