Probe widened into recovery of oxygen concentrators from Lutyens eateries

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS): Even as the recovery of over 500 oxygen concentrators from the famous eatries in Lutyens Delhi has been transferred to the Crime Branch, several prominent people have come on the radar of the Delhi Police, including Navneet Kalra who owns three of those restaurants.

The BJP has demanded strict action against people hoarding oxygen concentrators and selling them on high prices amid the devastating second of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

According to senior Delhi Police sources related to the probe, the oxygen concentrators were being imported from China since October 2020 for as low as Rs 12,000 to Rs 20,000 and were being sold via online portals and WhatsApp between Rs 50,000 to Rs 70,000.

The sources said that the police has recovered several WhatsApp messages the discussing sale of concentrators.

However, it is yet not clear if these messages were sent by Kalra.

The sources have confirmed said that it has received an audio recording where Kalra is purportedly heard saying that he cannot answer all calls as he was under immense pressure to deliver the concentrators.

A police official said that Kalra has been allegedly absconding and his mobile phone is switched off.

The police on Friday night arrested Gourav Kapoor, CEO of Matrix Cellular Services Ltd, in connection with its probe into the seizure of over 500 oxygen concentrators in the last two days.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) South Delhi Atul Kumar Thakur confirmed the arrest of Khanna, a resident of Haryana's Gurugram.

He said that on Friday, police carried out searches at two popular restaurants in South Delhi's upscale Khan Market and recovered 105 concentrators, which are used for treatment of Covid patients.

"During searches at Khan Chacha restraueant in Khan Market, 96 oxygen concentrators were recovered, while nine concentrators were recovered from Town Hall restaurant," Thakur said.

Khan Chacha restaurant is known for its melt-in-the mouth kebabs, while Town Hall restaurant specialises in pan-Asian cuisine.

The official said that these concentrators were being sold in the black market.

Both outlets are linked to Kalra, the alleged black marketer of oxygen concentrators in Delhi, the official said.

On Thursday, the police recovered 419 oxygen concentrators after conducting a search at Nege & Ju Restaurant and Bar in Lodhi Colony, also owned by Kalra. The police arrested four men, including the manager of the restaurant.

Thakur said that Friday's searches were based on the inputs shared by arrested accused Hitesh during questioning.

"After searching the restaurant one person was found sitting on a laptop and he was getting orders online for oxygen concentrators by Xpect Everything online portal and on searching the restaurant premises, a total of 32 boxes of oxygen concentrators having capacity of 9 litre and 5 litre each and one box of thermal scanner and another box containing N95 masks were found," he had said.

Thakursaid that after verification it was found that the owner of the restaurant and bar is Kalra.

He said that a case was registered under several sections of IPC, Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act and four accused persons -- Gaurav, Satish Sethi, Vikrant and Hitesh were taken into custody.

Thakur said that on detailed interrogation, the accused persons disclosed about their warehouse in Khullar Farm, Mandi Village.

The police is also in touch with Customs department to verify the imports of the concentrators.

Taking on the black marketing of oxygen concentrators and oxygen cylinders, BJP leader Kapil Mishra demanded the police to take strict action against the accused.

In a video statement, Mishra said: "At a time when peole of Delhi are facing shortage of oxygen cylinders, Delhi Minister Imran Hussain is hoarding over 600 oxygen cylinders at his home. A case should be registered against him.

"I urge the Commissioner of Delhi Police to take strict action against them."



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