Amid an ongoing controversy over a woman doctor being transferred for “refusing” to test NRIs – sent by the local MLA – for coronavirus on TrueNat machine at Moga Civil Hospital, a Ludhiana man has alleged that an ‘agent cum middleman’ took Rs 31,500 from him to get his nine relatives tested before their return to Hong Kong and promised negative reports even if they tested positive for the infection.
Charanjit Singh, a resident of village Deherka of Ludhiana, in his complaint (copy with The Indian Express), submitted to Moga deputy commissioner, has alleged the agent had charged Rs 3,500 per test.
He further stated in his complaint that his NRI parents and other relatives had to return to Hong Kong on August 4 and it was mandatory to get them tested 72 hours prior to the flight.
“When we visited the Moga civil hospital, there was a huge rush of patients who were waiting to get tested. The doctors told us that it wasn’t possible to get my family tested that day. When we were returning, an agent named Om Prakash came to us and said that he can get our tests done for Rs 3,500 per person. We had no other option then but to pay him Rs 31,500 for nine persons as we needed the reports urgently but now we want proper probe in the matter. We got to know that many others have been duped like us. Hospital’s CCTV cameras of our meeting with Om Prakash and call records can be checked,” read the complaint.
Meanwhile, Om Prakash, who is a resident of Suraj Nagar in Moga, has alleged that he handed over an amount of Rs 1.70 lakh for testing of 48 NRIs to Moga district epidemiologist Dr Naresh Amla but the tests were never done.
He has also claimed that the doctor is yet to return the money even as 48 NRIs, most of them Hong Kong bound, have already returned after getting the tests done from other hospitals and health facilities.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Om Prakash claimed, “My landlady Balwinder Kaur is from Hong Kong and she has been here for the past few months. She had to return and requested me to get her test done. We contacted Dr Naresh Amla who demanded Rs 2,000 for the test. After the test was done, Dr Amla himself came to our house and handed us a ‘negative’ report of Balwinder Kaur. He took Rs 2,000 saying that it was government fee. However, Balwinder Kaur missed the flight, which was scheduled for July 28. Her next flight was for August 3 and this time, Dr Amla demanded Rs 3,500 for fresh test. We paid him the money but this time he did not give us the report. We had to go to Faridkot to get her tested.”
Om Prakash alleged that on assurance given by Dr Amla, samples of 48 NRIs were collected (23 collected on August 2 and 25 on August 3) but they were never tested and neither were reports given.
“Dr Amla had promised us that he will give a negative report even if the result came positive. We gave him Rs 1.70 lakh for testing the 48 NRIs on August 2 but he never gave the reports, nor did he return the money. We were told that the testing machine stopped working so tests could not be done. He never told us that tests are done free of cost. All 48 people got tested from somewhere else and returned,” he said in a written statement.
“Balwinder Kaur’s daughter Paramjit Kaur lives in Hong Kong and she himself had negotiated with Dr Amla for Rs 3,500 per test for the other NRIs. I was only told to hand over the money to Dr Amla, which was collected from the NRIs. Dr Amla had told us that he has to give this money to the doctor who will do tests and there will be no receipt for it,” claimed Prakash, adding that he is an arthiya and not ‘any agent or middleman’.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr Naresh Amla, the Moga district epidemiologist, denied the allegations. He said that he never took any money for Balwinder Kaur’s test or for that of the 48 NRIs.
“I don’t even know who this Om Prakash is. I got Balwinder Kaur’s test done because she was an acquaintance. No money was taken for her test as all testing (including TrueNat machine) is free of cost at Civil Hospital. Later her daughter contacted me requesting for tests of some NRIs and I said that we will do them if possible but I did not take a single penny. However, as our machine stopped working, I referred them to Faridkot. Later, I got to know that Om Prakash was collecting money from NRIs in my name and I told authorities at Faridkot to stop testing immediately. He (Om Prakash) also returned money to some NRIs who got themselves tested on their own later. I have not taken a single penny from either Om Prakash or any NRI. He is now blackmailing me and demanding that I should return his money because he suffered a loss. I have submitted my written statement to the SSP and civil surgeon demanding a fair probe in the matter.”
Moga deputy commissioner Sandeep Hans said that he has forwarded Charanjit’s complaint to SSP for probe. “As per the complaint we have received from Charanjit Singh, Om Prakash took Rs 3,500 for each test for getting his nine family members tested and gave negative reports. Police will further probe the matter on Om Prakash’s allegations against Dr Amla,” said DC.
Moga MLA Dr Harjot Kamal had also alleged that NRIs are being ‘cheated’ at Moga Civil Hospital and Rs 3,500 per test are being ‘extorted’ from them.
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