Pandemic’s vultures

The recovery of almost 100 oxygen concentrators from an eatery in Delhi’s upscale Khan Market, a day after another restaurant in Lodhi Colony was busted and nine concentrators seized, adds to the long and equally shocking list of black marketeering, hoarding, loot and other frauds taking place amid the pandemic. Huge recoveries were also made from a farm. That the alleged kingpin is a well-heeled businessman who along with his accomplices saw in the Covid-19 tragedy ravaging their city a massive opportunity to mint money only amplifies the disgusting societal rot. Imported from China for

Rs 20,000-25,000 presumably for personal use, the concentrators were being sold for at least Rs 70,000. Greed alone cannot explain what’s unravelling; besides an immoral and vile mindset is the criminal recklessness that only lack of fear of punishment can induce and sustain.

The rampant ambulance profiteering is now on the radar of the authorities as harassed and hapless family members of the sick and dying, already reeling under stress, pain and lack of institutional support, take it upon themselves to ensure that others are spared their fate. The helplines are buzzing and sting operations are being carried out across media platforms. The Delhi Police had to confront another sickening reality recently. Three men were arrested for selling fire extinguishers as oxygen cylinders by painting them white. A massive, coordinated crackdown by the law and order machinery can only be called a starting point. An example needs to be made out with a fast-track court trial of those on a ruinous path to demean humanity.

If a new bar is set every day for how low people can fall, the national capital is also witnessing how they can rise to the occasion too. From ‘oxygen langar’ to setting up Covid bed facilities, gurdwaras have again excelled in their selfless service. Twitter handles have served as lifelines. The second wave has exposed the inadequacies of governments like never before. Forget image correction, only earnest measures to deal with the unprecedented crisis can make a difference.

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