While the infamous Rs 6,000 crore synthetic drug controversy is still fresh, Punjab's laboratory technicians are now trying their hands at producing blood.
In a first of its kind fraud, three Punjab hospital lab technicians along with two accomplices were on June 14 nabbed on charges of supplying and manufacturing as much as 21,752 packs of fake blood plasma.
Sources close to Mail Today said residents of Behman Diwana village near Bathinda, Punjab had informed the police about an unidentified trucker who had parked his air-conditioned vehicle with a Maharashtra registration number (MH 46 AF 6137) in the village. He would park the truck in the evening and would leave in the morning.
Bathinda Police initially suspected the trucker to be part of a drug cartel and had asked Muktsar Intelligence Bureau to put the truck driver's phone on surveillance.
However, when the truck was raided, the police recovered packets of blood plasma.
The police arrested the trucker Lal Bahadur Singh, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, revealed that he had reached Bathinda on June 8 and was waiting for the consignment which was scheduled to be transported to Mumbai.
Singh's arrest led to the arrest of Dilbag Singh - a lab technician at a local hospital, who along with Paramjit Singh (another technician), his brother Narinder Singh and Paramjit Singh a former lab technician and pharmaceutical wholesale distributor are involved in the racket.
|Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal. (PTI)
The revelations made by the accused lab technicians and their accomplices revealed that the fake blood plasma was prepared by mixing egg yolk, soya milk, refined vegetable oils, water and artificial colours.
"Prime accused Dilbag Singh who is working as a blood bank in-charge in Adesh Hospital with co-accused Parmjit Singh, a former lab technician had agreed to supply 5,000 units of blood plasma to Reliance Life Sciences for Rs 1.25 crore out of which Rs 20 lakh were paid by the company in advance. As Dilbagh Singh could not supply the required quantity of plasma, he along with Paramjit Singh produced fake plasma. The accused revealed that the supply was intended for cosmetics creams and other beauty products," Ajai Maluja, IG Police, Counter Intelligence Bathinda and Ferozepur range said.
Sources said the accused Dilbagh Singh and his accomplices had learned the "technique" to produce fake blood plasma from Nepal. They were supplying frozen fake plasma in Mumbai and South India.
While the cryo fusion machine takes nearly two hours to produce blood plasma from real blood, the accused technicians were producing over 21,000 units in eight hours. "Two samples of alleged frozen plasma have been sent to National Institute of Biologicals, Noida, UP for testing. The report is expected to reach within a fortnight. Only the lab report will be able to tell whether the packets contain human blood plasma or any other material," Maluja said.
The police will also question Zaheer Vohra, who claims to be the marketing manager of Reliance Life Sciences.
The investigations have also exposed the role of a Ludhiana-based blood bag supplier who instead of supplying the item to the hospital supplied it to a pharma distributor.
While the blood bags can only be supplied to the concerned blood bank, the Ludhiana firm had supplied 22,000 bags to Sukhmani Medical Agency, a firm owned by one of the co-accused Paramjit Singh.
While the arrest of three blood bank technicians raises questions on the purity of blood in state's blood banks, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's reply to the query was also very casual.
"Koi nahi kaka dekh lende han (no problem son, we will look into the matter)" said the chief minister on June 15, when questioned in Lambi area by the reporters.
The police refused to divulge more details as the investigations are still on.
Sources said the investigations may uncover a nationwide cartel of fake blood and blood plasma suppliers who are playing with the health of thousands.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)