Arrest Gujarat BJP head for free Remdesivir distribution: Cong

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Ahmedabad, Apr 12 (PTI) Gujarat BJP president C R Paatil is facing fire over free distribution of 5,000 doses of key COVID-19 drug Remdesivir in Surat with the opposition Congress on Monday demanding his arrest for alleged illegal procurement and storage of the medicine.

The Gujarat Congress sought registration of an FIR against Paatil, who had stirred a controversy last week after he announced free distribution of 5,000 doses of Remdesivir in Surat, his hometown, amid a shortage of the medicine.

The free distribution started from the BJP's Surat office on April 10.

Even as the Congress sought his arrest, as many as 3,000 vials had already been distributed during the last three days, including around 1,000 injections given free to relatives of needy patients on Monday, said an office-bearer of the Surat BJP.

A Congress delegation, led by state unit chief Amit Chavda, called on Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat and sought strict action against Paatil for 'flouting rules'.

'No one knows how Paatil procured 5,000 Remdesivir injections. Is he having any licence to buy and store such critical drug in his premises? 'How much money was spent (to buy the drug) and under which law it was procured? There is absolutely no information available about it,' Chavda told reporters after meeting the Governor.

Other members of the Congress delegation included Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil, Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani and former Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki.

'It appears that one man is controlling the entire state. Since the BJP government is not taking any action, we urged the Governor to intervene in the matter.

'We want the police to lodge an FIR and arrest Paatil for this illegal act so that others refrain from doing such acts in the future,' said Chavda.

Paatil had told reporters on Saturday that the free distribution of the much sought after COVID-19 medicine was decided after looking at the plight of relatives of patients who needed Remdesivir.

'We were seeing long lines of people for injections and that is the reason we decided to help relatives of patients.

'The government is doing a good job by providing Remdesivir free of cost in government hospitals, while those in private hospitals have to pay large sums of money for it, the Gujarat BJP president had said.

On Monday, Surat MLA Harsh Sanghavi of the BJP came out in support of Paatil and said all the injections were procured from other states by paying money.

The ruling party legislator also hit out at the Congress.

'We have purchased these injections from other states where they are in excess. We are giving it for free to the needy people who are standing in queues.

'Is it a crime to help the needy people? Did Chavda give even one injection free to someone his own constituency?' asked Sanghavi. PTI PD/PJT RSY RSY