Oxygen racket: More concentrators seized from Khan Market eateries

A day after it seized 419 oxygen concentrators, 32 of those from a restaurant in South Delhi’s Lodhi Colony, and arrested four men for allegedly being part of a racket to sell the machines at inflated rates, the net has widened with the Delhi Police finding more concentrators stashed away in two top restaurants, Town Hall and Khan Chacha, both in the Capital’s Khan Market.

What links the three restaurants is their owner, Navneet Kalra, who, police said, was “absconding”.

DCP (South District) Atul Kumar Thakur said, “Navneet Kalra’s role is being verified. He will soon be called to join the investigation. At present, his phone is switched off and he is absconding. We are conducting raids.”

Police said they are also probing the role of Gagan Duggal, owner of Matrix Cellular, a firm that deals in SIM and calling cards. Police sources said that while it was Duggal who imported the machines, he allegedly contacted his friend Kalra and asked him to keep them at his restaurants in Lodhi Road and Khan Market. “They imported 650 oxygen concentrators and we have recovered 524… We are looking into the allegations against Duggal,” Thakur said.

On Friday night, police arrested Matrix Cellular CEO Gourav Khanna from Gurgaon.

On Wednesday, police had raided Nege Ju, a restaurant in Lodhi Colony, and arrested manager Hitesh Prakash, besides three other men – Gaurav Singh, Satish Sethi and Vikrant Singh, all employees of Matrix Cellular. Police had also seized 387 concentrators from a warehouse operated by Matrix Cellular in Chhatarpur.

“Hitesh told us that his associates stored some of the units at Town Hall and Khan Chacha restaurants. The district police conducted raids and seized 96 oxygen concentrators from Khan Chacha and nine from Town Hall,” Thakur said.

The four accused have been booked for cheating and under sections of the Essential Commodities Act and Epidemic Diseases Act. They were produced before a duty magistrate on Thursday and remanded in police custody for a day.

“During questioning, the accused told the police that they started importing the concentrators in October last year,” a senior police officer said.

In February, they imported more units from China — at an imported cost of Rs 16,000-Rs 22,000 for each and selling at an inflated cost of Rs 70,000-Rs 80,000 per concentrator. “All the machines were imported in the name of Matrix Cellular and were collected from the airport after claiming that they were being sent to hospitals,” an officer said.

DCP Thakur said, “Their stock was stored in different restaurants. The accused used online portals such as Xpect Everything to sell these to families of Covid patients at Rs 70,000-Rs 80,000 a piece. They also used WhatsApp groups and circulated information about their business.”