July 22, 2021 10:54:00 pm
The Uttarakhand Police has arrested a Haryana resident for allegedly entering fake Covid test data on the ICMR portal and hiring unskilled staff for conducting rapid tests during the Kumbh Mela. This is the first arrest in the fake Covid test scam that took place during the congregation of lakhs of people amid the devastating second wave.
On June 17, the police had lodged an FIR against a private agency, Max Corporate Service, and two laboratories — Nalwa Laboratories Pvt Limited, Hisar and Dr Lal Chandani Lab, Delhi— for allegedly issuing fake reports from Rapid Antigen Tests conducted during the mela.
Haridwar police had constituted a SIT to probe the matter after lodging the FIR on the complaint of Chief Medical Officer SK Jha.
According to a release from Haridwar police, SIT found that partners of Max Corporate Services — Sharat Pant and his wife Mallia Pant — “misled” the Kumbh Mela’s Medical and Health Officer and received a contract for conducting Covid-19 tests during the Kumbh Mela by producing a MoU with the aforementioned labs.
The couple, however, partnered with one Ashish Vashisth of Delphia Lab in Haryana’s Bhiwani. This lab was not authorized by ICMR for Covid tests, the police said.
SP (City) Kamlesh Upadhyay said Vashisth, on behalf of the Pant couple, hired unskilled staff and inflated the number of tests done several times. Vashisth uploaded over 1.10 lakh tests — including fake tests — on the ICMR portal and submitted a bill of Rs 4 crore.
The SIT found that in several instances, a single mobile number was repeated in multiple test reports—even though those numbers had either not come to Haridwar or were inactive at that time.
The SIT recorded Vashith’s statements and arrested him Wednesday. He was produced before a court on Thursday.