Two swab collectors and a data operator working at two Primary Health Centers (PHCs) in Bengaluru on Thursday were sacked by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for taking bribes to fake COVID-19 test reports. This after a sting by Suvarna News Network revealed that two swab collectors and one data operator were providing fake COVID-19 certificates in exchange for bribes. The three accused were Venkatesh of Mallatahalli PHC, Naresh and Pavan of Yeshwanthpur PHC.
Data operator Pavan and swab collectors Naresh were employed by the BBMP on October 28, 2020 in the Yeshwanthpur PHC. In the sting, the video shows the swab collectors agreeing to provide a false positive certificate to an undercover journalist, so that he can apply for leave. Further, one of them is seen asking for a bribe of Rs 100 each for him and his colleague, in addition to the price of the actual test with instructions on where to give the bribe.
After the incident came to light, the medical officer of Rajarajeshwari Nagar issued a statement saying that all the three employees have been dismissed with immediate effect. A First Information Report (FIR) was registered against all the three by the Annapurneshwari Nagar and Yeshwantpur Police.
According to the FIR registered by the Yeshwanthpur police, "Swab collector Naresh and data operator Pawan together asked a person for Rs 900 to give a fake COVID-19 positive report."
Naresh and Pavan were booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) ,465 (forgery) ,468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document). According to the police, the accused will be produced before the court on Friday.
Recently, another COVID-19 testing fraud had come to light at Kodigehalli PHC in Bengaluru. Two employees, Hemanth and Nagaraj were caught on video faking COVID-19 tests by putting unused swabs into the vials. The two staffers were later arrested by the Kodigehalli police and booked.