Kolkata "Fake" Vaccine Drive Accused May Be Charged With Attempt To Murder

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself is believed to have instructed the commissioner of Kolkata police to add the attempt to murder case.

Kolkata 'Fake' Vaccine Drive Accused May Be Charged With Attempt To Murder

Debanjan Deb started posing as an IAS officer to primarily please his parents, the police said

The alleged vaccine fraudster in Kolkata who held at least three phony vaccination camps may now be charged with attempt to murder. Kolkata Police will appeal to court today to add Section 307 to the list of charges.

The police say that instead of the Covid vaccine, Debanjan Deb gave people shots of the anti-biotic Amikacin without checking for allergies that could prove fatal for them.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself is believed to have instructed the commissioner of Kolkata police to add the attempt to murder case. She has also reportedly told him that no one associated with the fraud should be spared.

The BJP has accused the Trinamool of being involved in the scam.

Dilip Ghosh, BJP state chief, said, "The Trinamool has now started a vaccine syndicate. Who knows where else such fraud is going on. Similar frauds could be happening in other parts of the state as well."

Mr Ghosh's comments came after his party demanded a CBI probe into the case. "The fraud couldn't have happened without the involvement of Trinamool leaders," party leader Sayantan Bose said.

He also threatened a protest march to the police headquarters in Lalbazar with a one-lakh strong crowd.

An advocate at the Calcutta High Court has filed a PIL for a CBI probe in the case.

Meanwhile, actor and Trinamool MP Mimi Chakraborty who had first raised the alarm about the fraud vaccination camp cancelled a virtual press conference today as she was feeling unwell. Her office, quoting doctors, said an existing gall bladder problem had recurred and her indisposition did not have anything to do with  the fake vaccine that she was administered on Tuesday, they said.

Three more arrests have been made in the vaccine fraud case - two of them for forging signatures to open bank accounts and a third for taking an active part in the vaccination camps.

All three arrested will be produced in court today.

Police have also filed three additional cases against the fraudster for cheating people of money amounting to almost one crore rupees. 

One private firm gave him ₹1.2 lakh to get 172 employees vaccinated, a pharma company gave him ₹4 lakh after he promised to get it a tender for hand sanitizers. A contractor was cheated of ₹ 90 lakh, paid for the construction of a stadium. 

Debanjan Deb has told police that he started posing as an IAS officer to primarily please his parents. Son of a retired senior excise officer, Deb made an unsuccessful attempt in the IAS exams in 2017 but told his parents that he had cleared it, officials said.

Posing as a social worker and documentary filmmaker, he made contacts in the state's Information and Cultural Affairs Department and the Municipal Corporation.

Once the pandemic started, he spent money on buying sanitisers, masks and PPE and distributed them free to NGOs. He also started seeking sub-contracts from Kolkata Municipal Corporation contractors and became an influence peddler. 

"He started getting importance. Flowers were being showered on him at events and so on," said Mr Murlidhar Sharma, joint commissioner (crime) Kolkata Police. "We are of course checking out all claims he is making," Mr Sharma added. 

Meanwhile, police have identified 515 people who took the shot at Kasba and 72 at a college where the fraudster held a camp as well. A hunt is on to identify others who may have taken the shot at Kasba. The total number of victims could be as high as 2,000, officials said.

On the chief minister's orders, the victims have to be identified and examined by the municipal corporation and, once declared fit, they should be given the vaccines.