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Monday, October 19, 2020

‘Espionage’ case: ‘Associates’ ran a low-key pharmacy

When The Indian Express visited the shop last Tuesday, it was found shut, with neighbouring shopkeepers saying they had little interaction with the duo or knowledge of their activities.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Updated: September 27, 2020 10:13:35 am
Rajeev Sharma, Rajeev Sharma journalist, China Rajeev Sharma, Rajeev Sharma journalist espionage case, Delhi court on Journalist Rajeev, indian express newsArrested freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma in New Delhi (Photo: PTI)

The Delhi Police Special Cell has alleged that journalist Rajeev Sharma, arrested over an alleged espionage racket, was given “a huge amount of money” by two associates through “shell companies”, among them, ‘MZ Pharmacy’ at Mahipalpur.

When The Indian Express visited the shop last Tuesday, it was found shut, with neighbouring shopkeepers saying they had little interaction with the duo or knowledge of their activities.

A Chinese woman Qing Shi and Nepalese national Sher Singh, alleged to be Sharma’s associates in leaking defence-related information to Chinese intelligence and arrested in the case, had rented the shop around a year back, said owner Gulshan Sehrawat (34). They had not paid rent for the last three months. Those working in nearby shops said they never sensed wrongdoing, but added that customers were rarely seen at the pharmacy.

“I had rented the shop to them about a year ago. Before that, the same shop (MZ Pharmacy) was in the same market in a different place for around 6-7 years. My interaction was only with the Nepalese man. I knew about the Chinese woman, but never spoke to her,” said Sehrawat.

“They told me they run a pharmacy, and even now medicines are kept stocked inside their office. I think they primarily exported medicines, which is why there weren’t customers. I never sensed anything amiss. Rent was smooth until three months ago when they said they couldn’t pay because of Covid,” he said.

Last Tuesday, shutters were down at the stairs leading up to the first floor office of MZ Pharmacy. Desk and chairs were visible through the glass wall.

Mihir Kumar Jha (54), who works at the adjoining Gupta Bros Chemist, said, “When the shop opened a year ago, we thought it would harm our business, but we noticed there were no customers. Only packages left and came. We had no interaction with them.”

Raj Kumar (45), housekeeping staff at the Vodafone store situated just below MZ Pharmacy, also said the duo never interacted with anyone. “I have seen them come in a scooty. The man was fluent in Hindi and the woman also spoke a little bit. We never saw any customers but couriers were sent.”

The green board which read MZ Pharmacy also had two phone numbers printed on it. While calls to one of the numbers kept dropping instantly upon dialling, the other said “incoming call is not available on this number”.

MZ Mall, the second company named by police, is also registered at the Mahipalpur address as on March 3, 2019. When The Indian Express visited the spot, only the office of MZ Pharmacy was found and no board indicating the presence of MZ Mall was seen.

Shareholder details for MZ Mall state that Cheng Zhang owns 99.99% stake in MZ Mall, while the remainder is owned by Singh. Police had earlier said “Zhang and his wife were running MZ Pharmacy and MZ Malls under fake names” and live in China.

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