Mumbai: Amid coronavirus outbreak, 4 lakh masks worth Rs 1 cr seized by cops in Andheri godown; 5 booked
Priyanka Navalkar

At a time when face masks and hand sanitisers have been deemed as essential commodities for the citizens, following which the country is struggling to complete its demand, Vile Parle Police raided a warehouse at Cargo Road in Andheri (E) and seized over four lakh three-ply masks valued at Rs one crore on Tuesday. Since the warehouse is located under the jurisdiction of Sahar Police, a case was registered and five people were booked there.

A team led by inspector Rajendra Kane of Vile Parle police station received a tip off that many face masks were stored at a warehouse at Cargo Road, near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) in Andheri (E). Acting on this lead, police laid a trap and raided the warehouse on Tuesday evening, where they found 200 boxes, in which four lakh 3-ply masks were stored.

"There were many things stored in that warehouse including clothes, paper and the surgical masks. We seized these masks and have transferred the case to Sahar Police, as the warehouse comes under their jurisdiction. They have booked five people, including the godown owner, export agents and owner of the commodities," said Inspector Kane.

Manjunath Singe, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 8) said the accused have been detained and are being questioned for their acts. "Storing essential commodities like face masks, santisiers in large quantities is an offence and the accused people have been booked under relevant sections of the Essential Commodities Act. We urge people to come forward and report to us if they know of any such act or people, in a bid to end the shortage of such products," DCP Singe added.

After the spread of novel coronavirus, demand for the masks had shot up and shopkeepers began hoarding these essential commodities. The state's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently banned the sale of the N95 respirators without prescriptions after the government received complaints hoarding and panicky buying by the people.

In another major operation carried out earlier on Tuesday, officials of crime branch unit 9 had seized 25 lakh masks, including 3.5 lakh N95 masks valued at Rs 15 crore. Four men were arrested and booked by police.

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