A video of medicines and vials of injections floating in Punjab’s Bhakra canal is doing the rounds on social media. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted the video and rebuked the Punjab government by saying, “Respected CM Punjab, This is abhorring & Criminal While patients struggle for essential medicines in Punjab ..thousands of vials of Injection Remdesivir are found dumped in the Bhakra canal! Who’s responsible for this criminal act? Why’s the Punjab Govt silent?”. At the time of writing this article, Patra’s tweet garnered close to 1,300 retweets.

BJP Punjab and BJP Rajasthan also criticised the Punjab government while sharing the video and a screenshot of two reports – one on the Rajasthan government supplying 10,000 doses of Remdesivir injection to Punjab and the other on Remdesivir vials recovered from Bhakra canal.

One Ravikant Pandey also shared the video on the Facebook Group Pushpendra Kulshrestha. The user claimed that the vials were thrown as a conspiracy against the central government.

The text shared along with the video reads, “ये होता है षड्यंत्र , चीन पापिस्तान के टुकड़ों पर पलनें वालें नेताओं + फर्जी किसान आंदोलन करनें वालों नें रातों रात साजिश करकें लाखों करोड़ो रू में खरीदकर रेमडीसीवर दवाई मरीजों तक ना पहुंचाकर पंजाब की नहरों मे बहा दी , जिस से मरीज की अकाल मृत्यु हो और सरकार की बदनामी हो”.

The video is also circulating with the same text on WhatsApp.

Drug Control Office says vials were fake

Alt News found that the video is indeed from the Bhakra canal in Punjab but Drug Control Officer said that the vials were fake. The Tribune reported on May 6, 2021 that as many as 621 fake Remdesivir vials were found dumped in the Bhakra canal. Along with Remdesivir, hundreds of Cefoperazone injection vials were seized by the police team led by the Chamkaur Sahib DSP. They were accompanied by health officials.

“In all, 621 Remdesivir and 1,456 Cefoperazone vials were seized from the two spots. In addition, 849 unlabelled vials were recovered. Drug Control Officer Tejinder Singh said prima facie the medicines were fake. The labels on vials did not match with those of original vials of the same company,” reported The Tribune.

Alt News contacted Ropar SSP Akhil Chaudhury who informed, “On the basis of the recovery, an investigation has been initiated. An FIR has been registered. We are examining all the aspects of the case. We have the leads but there hasn’t been a breakthrough yet. A team led by an SP-rank officer is investigating the matter.”

When asked if the Remdesivir vials were fake he said, “As per the Drug Control Officer, the labels of the recovered vials do not match with the original vials from the company, hence it apparently looks fake.”

On April 26, Delhi police DCP Crime Monika Bhardwaj had tweeted images pointing out the difference between the label of fake Remdesivir vials with the real one.

We also noticed a few discrepancies in the vials recovered from Bhakra canal – ‘Rx’ before Remdesivir is missing, lack of alignment in the text inscribed on the label and the ‘v’ in ‘Vial’ is not capitalized.

An image of the label of a genuine Remdesivir vial manufactured by Hyderabad-based Hetero company has been posted below.

It is also noteworthy that the News18 article that BJP Rajasthan shared has now been updated to reflect that the vials recovered were duplicates. The title of the initial report said, “Punjab: Thousands of Remdesivir injections found floating in canal, the box said ‘for government supply, not for sale’.” The updated headline says, “Punjab: Remdesivir injections recovered floating in canal, probe finds they were fake, police registers case”.

Alt News has reached out to the drug manufacturer for comment on the label of the vials. We will update the report if and when they respond. At present, the Drug Control Officer has stated that the vials were fake. The packaging of the vials recovered from the Bhakra canal matches the packaging of fake vials.

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About the Author

Jignesh is a writer and researcher at Alt News. He has a knack for visual investigation with a major interest in fact-checking videos and images. He has completed his Masters in Journalism from Gujarat University.