Berhampur: Police and Drug Controller officials conducted a joint raid on two shops dealing with surgical equipment on charges of hoarding and black marketing of oxygen cylinders at New Bus stand road in the city on Sunday.
The raids were carried out after a viral audio clip surfaced alleging black marketing of the oxygen cylinders. The team examined the purchase and sale bills of the shops. Though there is no video of the incident, more investigation is conducted to find out the fact, officials said.
“Based on an allegation, we raided two shops-Shree Surgicals and Gayatri Surgicals. We found that all the cylinders are stored. Only one cylinder was not there at Shree surgical which was sent for refilling. Further investigation is underway whether they have sold out any more cylinders at high prices,” Debasish Kalo, drug Inspector said.
On the other hand, the shop owners feigned innocence over the allegation.
“We don’t resort to any wrong doing during a time of pandemic. We have purchased 10 cylinders with the GST bill. Out of which one has been sent for refilling and nine others are available with us. We have not sold any of the cylinders at high prices,” said T Ajay Patra, owner of Shree Surgical.
“I had inadvertently told a customer regarding the price of the cylinder during which he recorded the audio and circulated it on social media," he added.
It is worth mentioning that the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) had earlier directed the State government to prevent black marketing of oxygen cylinders and other essential drugs used in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
Taking suo motu cognizance of media reports, the Commission had also ordered the Director General of Police (DGP) to ensure that guilty should be put behind bars.
The rights panel had also sought detailed reports on the alleged black marketing of oxygen in the State.