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Khan Market oxygen racket: As police book top Matrix officials, firm moves HC, says probe malicious

Police had on Thursday seized 419 oxygen concentrators from Nege Ju restaurant in Lodhi colony and a warehouse in Chattarpur Farms. Four men, including the restaurant manager, were arrested.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi |
Updated: May 8, 2021 8:41:50 pm
Khan market, oxygen racketOxygen concentrators being taken away following the raid at Khan Chacha restaurant in Khan Market, New Delhi, on Friday. (Photo: PTI)

A day after 105 oxygen concentrators were seized from two Khan Market restaurants – Khan Chacha and Townhall – police said they have arrested the CEO and Vice-President of an international SIM company called Matrix Cellular Services Ltd, and are looking for businessman Naveent Kalra, who owns the two establishments.

Police had on Thursday seized 419 oxygen concentrators from Nege Ju restaurant in Lodhi colony, also owned by Kalra, and a warehouse in Chattarpur Farms. Four men, including the restaurant manager, were arrested at the time for allegedly black marketing the equipment.

Police claim Kalra, whose phone is off, worked with his friend Gagan Duggal, owner of Matrix Cellular Services, to sell the equipment. The warehouse in Chattarpur’s Mandi Village, which was being used to store the equipment, is operated by the same company, said police.

The company’s CEO Gourav Khanna and V-P Gaurav Suri were on Saturday arrested in connection with the case, while Duggal’s alleged role is being investigated. Police said he does not live in India and was allegedly procuring the concentrators from China to sell at an inflated price here.

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Police have invoked sections of cheating and the Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act against the accused.

Meanwhile, Matrix Cellular Services moved the Delhi High Court to “get back” their oxygen concentrators which have been seized by police. In a statement, the company said the investigation is “ill-conceived and erroneous”.

The case has been transferred to the Crime Branch.

Police said that during verification, they found that the four men arrested on Friday were allegedly selling the equipment through a portal named X-Factor, which has a logo of Matrix Cellular Services and sells a range of Covid products.

“The accused bought the equipment for Rs 16,000-Rs 22,000 from China and sold it at a price of Rs 70,000,” claimed a senior officer.

The statement by Matrix Cellular Services read: “We… worked with our network partners to ensure the availability of critical material to respond to Covid pandemic, including masks, oximeters, sanitisation equipment and oxygen concentrators. All material procured by Matrix has been by way of import or purchase in India, after paying all relevant duties and taxes.”

It stated that during the second wave, the company set up a collection centre from where customers, including Covid patients, could pick up oxygen concentrators.

“What Matrix thought was a convenience to help its fellow citizens has been maliciously portrayed to be a grand conspiracy to cheat Delhi and profit from the pandemic – when nothing could be further from the truth,” it said, adding that their employees, who have been arrested in the case, are not criminals.

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