The rapidly growing COVID-19 cases in India has left family members of coronavirus positive patients fending for Remedsivir, a patented anti-viral drug approved by the USA’s FDA. Even as the effectiveness of Remdesivir has been questioned by doctors and scientists, desperate patients are buying the drug for as high as Rs 40,000 on the black market. The Gujarat police on May 1 busted a fake Remdesivir racket and arrested seven persons from Morbi, Ahmedabad and Surat. The police seized 60,000 empty vials, 30,000 fake stickers and over Rs 90 lakh cash, reported Deccan Herald.
A viral claim now suggests that the names of those arrested are Ramiz Kadri and Mohammed Asif. A tweet by the handle @Rashtra_Sevika_ received over 4,400 retweets. The tweet said, “Six people were arrested in Gujarat for making fake Remdesivir with salt, glucose and water. They were going to make 60,000 fake Remdesivir. Ramiz Kadri and Mohammed Asif of Ahmedabad’s Juhapura were caught with 1117 fake Remdesivir vials, Rs 50 lakh cash, 55000 fake vials and 30,000 fake Remdesivir.”
The handle posted another tweet in the thread, naming five other people who were caught. These five are not Muslim names however, this tweet drew only 107 retweets as of this writing.
The complete message reads, “गुजरात में 6 लोग पकडे गए जिन्होंने नमक,ग्लुकोज और पानी मिलाकर 5,000 नकली रेमडेसीवीर बनाए और बेचे वो ओर 60,000 नकली #रेमडेसीवीर बनाने वाले थे,जूहापूरा अहमदाबाद के #रमीज_कादरी और #मोहम्मद_आसिफ को 1117 नकली रेमडेसीवीर वायल,70 लाख केश,55,000 फेक वायल 30,000 फेक रेमडेसीवीर केसाथ पकड़ा.” The claim is also viral on Facebook.
Misleading posts highlight names of only the Muslim accused
The photographs shared on social media do pertain to the fake Remdesivir racket busted in Gujarat. Deccan Herald states that seven people were arrested – Morbi residents Rahul Koteya and Raviraj Hirani, Mohammed Ashim alias Ashif and Ramiz Kadri, Surat resident Kaushal Vora and his accomplice Mumbai resident Punit Talal Shah.
Kaushal Vora is reportedly the mastermind of the racket. Furthermore, the police recovered 1,170 injections and Rs 17.37 lakh cash from Ashif and Ramiz and 41 fake injections and Rs 2.15 lakh cash from Rahul and Raviraj. The Indian Express reported that the police seized 160 fake Remdesivir injections of Rs 7.68 lakh face value and Rs 74.70 lakh cash from Kaushal and Punit. The group was packaging glucose and table salt as Remdesivir injections.
It is noteworthy that Deccan Herald and The Indian Express have named six accused, but Decann Herald has stated that seven people were arrested. Ahmedabad Mirror named another accused Siraj Khan, an aide of Kaushal Vora.
According to Zee News Gujarati, the accused are Kaushal Mahendra Vora (Surat), Rahul Ashwin Bhai Kocheta (Morbi), Raviraj aka Raj Manojbhai Hirani (Morbi), Mohmmad Ashim aka Mohammad Asif Mohammad Abbas Patani (Ahmedabad), Ramiz Saiyad Hussain Kadri (Ahmedabad) and Punit Gunvantlal Shah (Mumbai). The report further states that two other accused from Bharuch and Surat are absconding.
Gujarat police has busted multiple fake Remdesivir rackets in the State since the demand for the drug skyrocketed in the second wave of the pandemic. The Times of India journalist Sarfaraz Shaikh tweeted that a total of 24 cases have been registered against 63 accused of black marketing and selling fake Remdesivir injections.
— Sarfaraz Shaikh (@sarfaraz1003) May 3, 2021
Several social media users cherry-picked names of the two Muslim accused in the fake Remdesivir racket busted in Gujarat to give the crime an anti-Muslim angle. According to media reports, around seven people were arrested in the case.