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Friday, July 23, 2021

Bengal fake vaccination racket: Accused says ‘wrote to firm for vaccine’, cops to verify claims

According to police, Deb used to write letters to various government agencies and would stick “forged received stamps” on them to convince people.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: June 28, 2021 7:30:15 am
Prime accused Debanjan Deb (second from right) with TMC MP Mimi Chakraborty at one of the centres that was giving fake vaccines. (Express Photo)

Apart from holding at least two “illegal” vaccination camps in Kolkata and “cheating” several people of lakhs, Debanjan Deb had also written to a pharmaceutical firm to purchase Covid vaccines, a Kolkata Police officer said on Sunday. “His claim is being verified,” said the officer.

During questioning, the 28-year-old man, who was arrested last week for impersonating as a joint commissioner of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), claimed that vaccines administered at two camps in Kasba and City College were genuine.

Investigation revealed that Deb had held two vaccination camps at Kasba and City College for 513 and 72 people, respectively.

Police have summoned 10 people, including current and former staff of Deb, for questioning. A few of them have been examined. More people were likely to be questioned, police said.

According to police, Deb used to write letters to various government agencies and would stick “forged received stamps” on them to convince people. It is alleged that he himself used to reply to government letters.

Stamps of various government bodies such as KMC, Information and Cultural Affairs Department, Public Works Department and West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company have been recovered from Deb’s house and office.

The accused had opened eight bank accounts, and one of them was in the name of his company WBFINCORP used to pay salary to his staff, said another police officer.

Investigation also revealed that Deb had created a fake email account — deputymanager@kmcgov.org.

According to sources, Deb, in order to gather more people for his vaccination drive, would call and invite them. His friends and relatives were among the recipients of the vaccine at Kasba.

“We had known him as an IAS officer. He was always good in studies so no one doubted him. I with my family took the vaccine at the Kasba camp. When we told him that we had not received any message, he said it may have been due to a technical issue and told us that we would get a printed copy of the certificate. We did not know that none of the recipients had received the message,” said a family friend of Deb. TMC MP Mimi Chakraborty blew the lid off the alleged fraud after she did not receive the customary phone message post her vaccination at the Kasba camp.

Apart from forging KMC letter pads, stamp and ID cards, Deb is also accused of opening a bank account in the name of the civic body.

The case took a political turn when his pictures with TMC leaders started doing the rounds on social media. The BJP demanded a CBI probe into the case, alleging TMC leaders’ links to Deb.

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