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Kit charges & report cloud

Calcutta, Dec. 20: Eighty-five days after the blood kit scam came to light, Calcutta police today chargesheeted businessman Govind Sarda, his brother Ghanshyam and Anand Mallu, an employee of the Sarda-owned Monozyme India Ltd.

“The chargesheet was submitted today before the chief judicial magistrate. The Sarda brothers and Mallu were charged with forgery, cheating and violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act,” Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner, detective department, said.

The charges carry maximum punishment of jail for life.

Three other accused — Aditya, Jagdish and Amit Sarda — have been shown as absconders in the chargesheet.

The city police also received today a report from the National Institute of Biologicals (NIB), where the faulty kits had been sent for examination. However, the police remained tightlipped about its contents, citing “incorrect format”.

“We have some queries about the presentation and the format of the report and we have asked the central drug controller to seek clarification from the NIB,” Singh said. “The central drug controller had examined the samples and found that kits were faulty before they were sent to the NIB.”

The faulty blood kit scam was unearthed on September 27 following an official complaint lodged by the central drug controller with the detective department.

Police suspect that thousands of people across the state might have been given contaminated blood tested with Hepatitis B and C and HIV kits whose expiry dates had either been tampered with or which had passed use-by dates during the past couple of years. The West Bengal State AIDS Prevention and Control Society had approved the kits.

Two Monozyme employees spilled the beans on September 1. In a complaint lodged with the police, they alleged that they were threatened and assaulted by Mallu for refusing to sign a paper clearing the dud kits and also tipped off the police about the ongoing malpractice.

But the drug controller lodged the complaint with the police only on September 27, when the probe was already on.

The chief minister, who had asked for a CBI probe, had given a clean chit to the health department but the police suspect that the racket enjoyed the support of a section of officials.

The police said a number of states, including Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and several in the Northeast, had bought faulty blood test kits from Monozyme.

Investigators had revealed that the cartons in which the kits came mention 2007 as the expiry date, but the boxes inside state “005”. The use-by date on the test pouches inside the boxes is either missing or smudged.

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