As neighbouring states have made negative RT-PCR reports mandatory for people arriving from Maharashtra, some tourist bus operators are making a mockery of the deadly pandemic by ignoring the guidelines and turning it into a money minting exercise by adopting fraudulent methods which could further spread the infection.
The matter came to light after 33 people including the driver, cleaner and passengers of a Gujarat-bound private luxury bus were found to be carrying fake RT-PCR Covid-19 negative reports in Kashimira on Tuesday morning.
The action followed in response to a tip-off received by the crime branch ( unit I) attached to the Mira Bhayandar-Vasai Virar (MBVV) police commissionerate about a racket involving fake RT-PCR negative reports being provided to passengers travelling to Gujarat in private buses from Mumbai and Thane.
A team led by Police Inspector Aviraj Kurhade under the instructions of DCP (Crime) Dr. Mahesh Patil, intercepted a bus on the highway in Kashimira.
“Upon checking, the police team found that all Covid negative test reports were issued by a single laboratory, which was quite impossible as passengers hailed from different parts of the city,” said an investigation officer.
After a close examination, the reports turned out to be fabricated and were facilitated by the bus operator at a price of Rs. 300 per report. The bus operator had apparently used a genuine Covid-19 report to fudge details including name, age and timing of the report to print copies of fake reports.
Not ruling out more arrests in the case, the police have registered an offence against 33 people under the relevant sections of the IPC, Disaster Management and Epidemic Act. Further investigations were underway.