Jadavpur MP Mimi Chakraborty was an invitee at one such camp held at Kasba on Tuesday and chose to take her first shot there. She grew suspicious when she didn’t receive a confirmatory sms after her shot. When she contacted the organisers, she was told a certificate would be sent to her after four days. At this point, Chakraborty took up the matter with senior police officers.
“The organisers told me it was a vaccination camp for transperson and differently-abled people. I instantly accepted the invitation and decided to get the jab to encourage others. When I realised I was misguided, I instantly informed the police,” Chakraborty told TOI.
According to police, at least 250 people received some ‘shot’ at the fake Kasba centre over the past six days. Investigations further revealed that Deb had organised similar fake camps across north and central Kolkata, including one at City College in north Kolkata and another on June 3 at Sonarpur. While Deb told cops he had procured “genuine” vaccines “from Bagri market” and “outside Swasthya Bhavan”, hundreds of people who received jabs at these fake camps, including Chakraborty, are alarmed over what they might have been injected with as Covid vaccines are not available in the open market.
“We have decided to send the samples for testing. If we find it to be placebo (normal saline) or any other vaccine, we will ask the recipients to get jabbed again,” said DC (SSD) Rashid Munir Khan.
The KMC on Wednesday decided to initiate a probe into the matter as the organizers had used the civic body’s vaccination banner to attract residents. “It is a major concern for us that our banners and logos were used for such a drive. Now we need to know the source of the vaccine vials. If we find any involvement of our officials, we will definitely track them down,” the KMC Board of Administrators (BoA) Firhad Hakim said.
Taking a lesson, the KMC has decided to make it mandatory for organizers of all off-site vaccination camps, including those by private hospitals, to seek prior approval from the civic body’s health department.
Deb, family claimed he is an MSc in genetics and wanted to crack the UPSC examination. His father, a retired Excise official, said he was unaware of his son’s activities. Cops have seized several fake ID cards from Deb; one introduced him as an IAS officer posted with the ministry of information and culture and another as a joint municipal commissioner of KMC. His car was fitted with a beacon and sported KMC stickers.
Cops said they are not yet sure about the motive of the accused but are investigating why Deb retained signed photocopies of each recipient’s Aadhaar card. “The car he used belongs to him. He claimed he wanted to popularize an NGO that he was heading, but this NGO is not even registered. We are trying to ascertain his exact motives,” said an officer from Kasba police station.
“Deb has so far made vague statements. We plan to take him to Bagri Market and Swasthya Bhavan as part of our investigation,” said an officer.
On how Deb’s fake camps escaped the radar, DC Khan said, “Many NGOs are organizing camps and giving free vaccines to the poor. So initially, he too, was not suspected. When we came to know of it, we raided and arrested him.”
Watch Mimi Chakraborty exposes fake COVID-19 vaccination camp in Kolkata