Amidst the ongoing war of words between Maha Vikas Aaghadi allies and Centre over Remdesivir and medical oxygen supplies to Maharashtra, BJP Leader Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday accused Maharastra Police of harassing a Daman-based Remdesivir supplier for agreeing to supply a stock of the drug to the state on the request of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.
"Four days ago, we had requested Bruck Pharma to supply a stock of Remdesivir vials to Maharashtra. They said they couldn't until permissions were given. I spoke with Union Minister Mansukh Mandviya and got Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s permission. Tonight around nine pm, the police arrested him," Fadnavis told reporters.
The former Maharashtra Chief Minister added that the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Manjunath Singe told they had inputs that some exporters had 60,000 vials and they only wanted to verify the same.
"We showed the police the permission letter. He (DCP) said it wasn't communicated to them earlier," the BJP leader added.
He added that whatever happened was wrong. He also visited Singe's office to discuss police action to summon distributor of Remdesivir for Inquiry.
However, Singe refuted the allegations that the distributor was arrested and said he was summoned just for an inquiry given the widespread black marketing of the antiviral medication.
"There's a shortage of Remdesvir in the state and black marketing is rampant. We had got information about this storage facility. Acting in good faith, we only wanted to verify the inputs. He (supplier) was called for an inquiry, it wasn't an arrest," Singe told media.
NCP Minister Jayant Patil criticised BJP after the incident and termed it as a "new low".
Taking to Twitter, Patil wrote, "With shortage of #Remdesivir, last night @MumbaiPolice rightly fulfilled their duty to check any supply malpractices/hoarding. The real Q is: Can any BJP leader, without any info to State govt/Local authorities/Police, procure lakhs of lifesaving drugs @PMOIndia. It’s a new low (sic)."
Meanwhile, the Congress party, which is sharing power with Shiv Sena and NCP in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, has refuted the charges made by the leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis that the state government was playing politics in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Sachin Sawant in a blistering attack said, "In pandemic when there is shortage of Remdesivir what do you expect from police? Can't they call anyone for Inquiry? Does BJP leaders take such steps for common people? We congratulate DCP Manjunath Singe and team for promptly performing their duty & Condemn act of BJP leaders."
In addition to Congress, AAP Mumbai also attacked BJP for allegedly hoarding Remdesivir at a time when people in Maharashtra are dying due to shortage.
AAP leader Preeti Sharma Menon said that former CM and BJP Leader Devendra Fadnavis has claimed that BJP Leader Prasad Lad went to Daman on behalf of BJP and met with Bruck Pharma. He used their Central Government to give the exporter permission to sell locally and then the BJP purchased the stock of Remdisivir from Bruck Pharma.
Menon said all TV channels have broadcasted videos of Devendra Fadnavis and other BJP Leaders browbeating police officers and thwarting an investigation. "Had any common citizen done that then would be charged with IPC Section 353 and thrown behind bars," she noted.
(With inputs from agencies)