Fake Covid-19 vaccination certificate issue adds to Manipur’s pandemic challenges
On July 7, one of the two CoWIN verifiers accused of providing fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates to four non-unvaccinated persons was arrested by the police.
As Manipur ramps up its vaccination drive to beat the unrelenting second wave ahead of the possible third wave, a new issue of fake Covid vaccination certificate has surfaced. Issuing of fake certificate to non-vaccinated persons was found a few days after the state government announced a cash award of Rs 20 lakh for the first fully vaccinated assembly constituency. Chief Minister N Biren Singh made the announcement during the launch of Mobile Insulated Vaccination Bus at Khurai Lamlong Keithel, Imphal East. Earlier, some district administrations and organizations also announced incentives for villages with the highest number of vaccination.
On Wednesday (July 7), one of the two CoWIN verifiers accused of providing fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates to four non-unvaccinated persons was arrested by the police. According to the police, the arrested CoWIN verifier was identified as one Md Rafique Ali son Md Ahmed Ali, a resident of Moijing Lamkhai. He is a primary teacher at Moijing High School, police said.
Barely a day after the arrest, the Imphal Free Press came across more cases of fake COVID-19 certificates being issued to non-vaccinated persons. This IFP reporter learnt from reliable sources in Kshetrigao assembly constituency about one person issuing vaccination certificates to non-vaccinated persons, charging Rs 500 to Rs 1,000. A 40-year-old woman, Shifa (named changed), told IFP that she was asked to give Rs 1,000 to get a fake vaccination certificate.
The certificate issued to her mentioned that she was administered the first dose of Covishield on June 26, 2021 and was vaccinated by one Somojini at Keirao Makting PHC, Imphal East, Manipur.
When this reporter contacted Dr Manihar of Health Service Department (immunisation officer SOP) over the phone, he revealed that the department had also received information of fake certificates being issued at some places.
According to the official, a strict official notification was issued to all concerned staffs and volunteers of COVID vaccination to protect and prevent the issuing of fake vaccination certificates.
Dr Manihar also said that till now the department is yet to find out how the officials in-charge are providing certificates. “There is a suspect that some NGOs and vaccination data entry staffs are providing such fake certificates, but it is yet to be confirmed,” he added.
“It is unfortunate to learn that some people are trying to make profit during these critical pandemic times,” he said.
The state government and healthcare workers are facing a hard time convincing the people to take Covid-19 vaccination to all people amid the rumours against taking the vaccine, he added.
Meanwhile, the four beneficiaries who received the fake certificates on July 7 have been identified and vaccinated following an order from the DC of Thoubal. The four were vaccinated at the Thoubal District Hospital with an executive magistrate as a witness.
Thoubal Police station have also taken up a case under FIR number 69(7) 2021 against the accused who was found guilty of the charges, and charges under section 120- A/120-B /166/ 167/ 168 / 192 / 193 / 196 / 197 / 198 /200/ 269 / 270 / 271 / 336 / 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) have also been made against him for further investigations.
The other accused, who evaded arrest as he was found not guilty, has been identified as one Md Abdul Wahid, a primary teacher at Ukhongsang Upper Primary School.
A statement from DC of Thoubal, Rangnamei Rang Peter, to district superintendent Jogeshchandra Haobijam mentioned that the two accused had submitted a written explanation on Wednesday following a show-cause issued on Tuesday by the DC after the MO in charge of UPHC-Phoudel had submitted a report that four individuals were provided fake vaccination certificates.
After examining the written explanation, investigations were carried out during which, Md Rafique Ali revealed that he was assigned the duty of providing vaccination certificates to those who have been administered the vaccine, and he was found guilty of misusing the COWIN application, it stated.
According to sources, Md Abdul Wahid had stated in his written explanation that he had no connection with providing the vaccination certificates, as the Mobile app was handled by Md Rafique Ali.
Meanwhile, Jogeshchandra Haobijam has released a video footage, appealing to the people not to receive or accept such fake vaccination certificates. The SP also informed that Md Rafique Ali was arrested by Thoubal Police on July 7 and all possible legal actions will be taken against him.
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