Mumbai: A day after a video featuring Piyu Udasi, singer-songwriter and composer went viral on social networking sites, accusing a nexus at Mumbai Airport first "forcing" to get institutional quarantine and then asking them to pay a bribe to escape the mandatory quarantine, BMC officials have initiated an investigation into the matter. Three days ago Udasi took to Instagram to share the story of her brother who returned from Africa, and alleged that there was a "money-making nexus" between BMC and police officials posted on the Mumbai Airport as well as the hotels assigned as institutional quarantine centres.
In a 4.21-minute-long video, Udasi has alleged that her brother who tested negative twice, requested the officials on the airport to test him for Covid-19, however, the officials told him that the seven-day institutional quarantine was mandatory. Later he was taken to a hotel named Sai Leela Grand in Andheri east, where his passport was seized and he was asked to shell out a bribe of Rs 10,000 if he wished to escape the quarantine.
"My brother requested repeatedly that they can get a test done if required as he had tested negative twice once at the airport in Africa and again in Dubai. However, his request was turned down by the officials at the Mumbai Airport. He was asked to go to the institutional quarantine and also bear the cost of accommodation, food etc. at the facility - Hotel Sai Leela Grand. His passport was seized by the officials and he was told he has to follow the seven-day mandatory quarantine. They even told him they will be charged for medicines too when my brother's not even Covid-19 positive, what medicines were they planning to give?" Udasi is heard saying in the video.
She further alleged: "When my brother refused to go for the quarantine he was referred to a cop, who told my brother that if you do not wish to go for the quarantine the manager at the hotel will tell him what is to be done. The policeman then took my brother to the hotel Sai Leela Grand. The cop who accompanied my brother spoke to the hotel manager and left. If you wish to evade the quarantine pay Rs 10,000 and we will let you go. The Hotel management had my brother's passport and told him unless he pays Rs 10,000 he will not get the passport and won't be allowed to leave. Or stay at the hotel quarantine and pay all the bills. My brother refused to pay the bribe. While my brother managed to escape the hotel, his passport is still with the hotel."
In the light of these allegations, the Hotel Sai Leela Grand has written to the MIDC Police in Andheri (E) on March 30, claiming that the man, Karan, had fled from the hotel and escaped the mandatory institutional quarantine and his sister has defamed the hotel through the video which went viral on social media.
While police have not registered a complaint in the matter, all allegations are being verified.
Meanwhile, BMC has initiated an inquiry on both angles verifying the corruption allegations made by Udasi and allegations made by the hotel that Udasi's bother Karan fled the hotel. "We are verifying the claims and investigating the matter from the core. I have already asked the Deputy Municipal Commissioner of Zone 3 to look into the case. If found that the man escaped quarantine and fled from the hotel we will take action against him. If the allegations against the hotel are true we will take action against the hotel's management. This is a serious matter and we will investigate thoroughly," said P Velrasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects).