Police bust oxygen concentrator racket in Delhi; four held

The two-day haul goes up to 524 concentrators at a time when the national capital faces oxygen crisis

Police personnel during a raid at a restaurant in Khan Market, in which oxygen concentrators were recovered on Friday. PTI Photo

The police on Friday (May 7) raided a popular eatery in south Delhi’s Khan Market and recovered almost 100 oxygen concentrators a day after another restaurant in Lodhi Colony was raided.

The eatery has been identified as Town Hall restaurant and bar at Lodhi Colony. Both outlets are allegedly linked to Navneet Kalra, an influential businessman, who is said to be on the run.

With this, the total number of oxygen concentrators seized over the past two days of raids has gone up to 524. On Thursday, Delhi Police raided the premises of Nege & Ju at Lodhi Colony’s Central Market and Khullar farm at Mandi village, all owned by Kalra.

COVID-battered Delhi has been experiencing a severe shortage of oxygen supply with even the Supreme Court asking the Centre to supply at least 700 metric tonne of oxygen every day for the National Capital.

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The police had on Thursday said a total of 303 FIRs had been registered in connection with hoarding or black-marketing of medical equipment during the pandemic’s second wave. As many as 144 people have been arrested in connection with such cases.

The police recovered 419 oxygen concentrators from the raids on Thursday (May 6). The police have said the orders for oxygen concentrators were taken via a portal and multiple WhatsApp groups.

Also read: World pitches in for COVID-hit India, but aid distribution hits roadblocks

Deputy Commissioner of Police Atul Thakur said the raids took place at Nege & Ju, owned by Kalra.

After searching the resto-bar, one person was seen with a laptop and taking orders for oxygen concentrators via the portal. On searching the premises, about 30 oxygen concentrators of 9-litre and 5-litre capacities were found along with boxes of thermal scanners and N-95 masks.

An FIR under sections of the Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act was registered against the four men. The arrested have been identified as Gaurav Singh, Satish Sethi, Vikrant and Hitesh, all residents of Delhi. “Hitesh is the manager of the place, while the mastermind is Kalra himself,” said Thakur.

Also read: Govt permits oxygen concentrator imports under gift category

According to police, the accused imported the oxygen concentrators and sold them in Delhi. The concentrators were bought for Rs 20,000-25,000 and were being sold for at least Rs 70,000. The police said the group has sold concentrators to over 50 buyers so far.

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