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Trouble brews over fake drug racket

Bhubaneswar, July 22: Prohibitory orders were clamped on two towns of Bolangir, after protests against manufacturers and dealers of spurious medicines took a violent turn today.

In the ensuing violence, at least 15 medicine shops were damaged and eight people detained. Residents of Kantabanji, where police had cracked down a spurious medicine manufacturing unit, had called a daylong Kantabanji bandh today. However, a rally taken out to protest the unscrupulous dealers turned violent when people started pelting stones and torched some shops. “They grew angry and in the process damaged a few shops,” conceded Bolangir superintendent of police Himanshu Lal.

“Section 144 CrPC has been declared in Bolangir and Kantabanji,” he added. Lal further added that eight people have been detained for alleged involvement in the racket.

In the neighbouring district Kalahandi, at least 10 shops were sealed for stocking the spurious drugs, a senior health official said.

Interestingly, caches of spurious drugs were found dumped in drains and jungles of western Orissa following a crackdown on the manufacturing unit on Friday. “Some medicines were found dumped in a jungle on the outskirts of Malkangiri,” confirmed Malkangiri subdivisional police officer S. Bhoi.

Bolangir police on Friday busted a racket of spurious drugs manufacturing and arrested three persons in this connection. Spurious drugs, including many live-saving medicines, worth more than Rs 1 crore have been seized.

The factory, owned by one Shankarlal Agarwal, was based at a walled compound in Kantabanji town of Bolangir. Fake labels, bottles and packets, by several “reputed” pharma companies were also recovered. “We have seized some machinery with which packing and sealing, akin to the originals, was being done. The kingpin and two of his associates are being interrogated,” said Bolangir SP Himanshu Lal, who headed the raids.

But, what has caused more worry is the fact that Agarwal was running the factory for the past few years and was supplying to places as far as Calcutta, Mumbai, Delhi and Raipur.

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