Antibiotic jabbed instead of COVID-19 vaccine at fake centres in Kolkata

Controversy opens a can of worms in which son of retired bureaucrat duped hundreds

The controversy over the operation of fake “vaccine centres” in Kolkata has opened a can of worms with officials suggesting that hundreds of people were administered with Amikacin, a readily available antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, instead of COVID-19 vaccines.

Other than a fake centre at Kasba, which was busted after Trinamool Congress MP Mimi Chakraborty raised an alarm earlier this week, two other centres have surfaced, where the accused Debanjan Deb vaccinated hundreds of people in the past weeks. The other fake centres were located at City College in north Kolkata and Sonarpur in South 24 Parganas.

Officials of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) have over the past two days sent medical teams to areas where people have been vaccinated to conduct a health check-up of those administered the fake “vaccines”. People who received doses of fake “vaccines” are panic stricken over possible side-effects from the antibiotic administered.

Investigation in the case has revealed that Debanjan Deb, who posed as a Joint Commissioner of the KMC, had been perpetrating several frauds for the past several months. Not only had he forged documents of the KMC, he had opened a fake account in the name of the city’s civic body and was actively engaged in transactions with medical suppliers.

The 28-year-old is the son of a retired bureaucrat and his photographs with several leaders, including senior functionaries of Indian Medical Association, have surfaced. Businessmen and those engaged as his staff say that since the accused had all the necessary documents, they never suspected any wrongdoing.

After the fraud came to light, several businessmen approached the police, alleging that they had been duped of lakhs of rupees. What has further embarrassed the KMC is that a statue of Rabindranath Tagore that was unveiled earlier this year in the city’s Taltala area features the name of the accused alongside key functionaries of the city’s civic body, including former mayor Firhad Hakim.

Atin Ghosh, member of the KMC’s Board of Administrators, said that statue was not installed after taking the KMC’s permission. The plaque was hurriedly removed by the KMC on Friday. Trinamool Congress MLA Tapas Roy and Nayana Bandyopadhyay lodged complaint with the Kolkata Police on their names being used in the plaque without their permission.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari demanded that the matter should be probed by a central investigation agency.

Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta, targeting the Trinamool Congress government in the State, tweeted,“More details of the fake IAS & fake vaccination scandal in Kolkata awaited. Prima facie it suggests that a picture of @MamataOfficial & display of Trinammol colours secures a blank cheque to do just about anything in W Bengal. This now includes selling coupons for free vaccines.”

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