For weeks now, Delhi has been struggling with oxygen in the aftermath of the second Covid-19 wave that hit India. Hospitals have continued putting out SOS alerts to announce that they have run out of oxygen as critical patients and their families tweeted and queued up at langars. Meanwhile, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government has been in a long-drawn tussle with the central government to meet their increasing demands of oxygen. And now, on Friday, Delhi police have recovered almost a hundred oxygen concentrators at a popular restaurant called 'Khan Chacha'. Earlier in the day, nine oxygen concentrators were seized from the Town Hall restaurant and bar at Lodhi Colony. And just a day ago, the police recovered 419 oxygen concentrators Nege Ju Restaurant and Bar in the central market of Lodhi Colony.
The police said that these concentrators were being sold in the black market.
Also Read: Why Is There An Oxygen Crisis In India?
The common thread connecting all these food outlets in Delhi is Navneet Kalra. Kalra is a well-known businessman who owns all these eateries where these oxygen concentrators were found in the raid. He also owns the famous Dayal Opticals, a chain of optical retail stores in India. Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Atul Thakur told reporters that the seizure began from the city's Nege & Ju Bar. "During verification, we found that the restaurant is owned by Navneet Kalra," Thakur said.
Now, Kalra is reportedly absconding. And the police are looking for him.
The Delhi police tweeted that further raids are on.
The Twitter bio of Navneet Kalra, a businessman, lists out his popular businesses-- #Dayalopticals #Khanchacha #TownHall #Mrchoy. All of them are popular in the capital city of India.
As the raids in Khan Chacha began, a part of a crackdown against hoarders selling oxygen concentrators in the black market amid an acute shortage, it wasn't Navneet Kalra's name that trended. The eatery's name soon became viral on social media, though.
And a lot of the tweets gave it a communal angle.
However, journalists and politicians took to Twitter to remind everyone that it is Navneet Kalra who owns 'Khan Chacha' restaurant
The about section of 'Khan Chacha' only mentions Navneet Kalra's name. No where does it mention the real Khan Chacha Haji Banda Hassan's name.
After a long battle over the trademark name 'Khan Chacha', Hassan's son's Salim and Javed started a restaurant called Salim Javed, located right next to the original eatery.
As history goes, Haji Banda Hassan had fled from his unenviable circumstances in Saharanpur in 1960 as a teenager and sought refuge in the food stalls outside Jama Masjid. After years of doing menial jobs, in 1972, he set up a small stall in Khan Market to sell rolls. Soon he became Khan Sahib and eventually Khan Chacha. In 2009, Khan Chacha shut down abruptly after a battle over the name. Hasan and his sons and the landlord of the spot offered contrasting statements on 'Who is the real Khan Chacha?' In 2010, they entered into a partnership with Navneet Kalra. Six years later, in 2016, following business disagreements, they split.
A 2017 Economic Times report claimed that there are "forged and fabricated" documents of an agreement from 2012 that handed over the rights of the trademark to Kalra's company. The authenticity of that document has been disputed.
The 51-year-old legacy Dayal Opticals runs over 15 stores in Delhi NCR with Naveen at the helm. And it's not just Dayal Opticals. Naveen owns many of the stores in Delhi's posh Khan Market.
During the raids by Delhi police, four people – Hitesh Prakash, Gaurav Singh, Satish Sethi and Vikrant Singh – were arrested. The oxygen concentrators were being sold at Rs 70,000 each, reported Indian Express.
Meanwhile, in its oxygen bulletin for 6th May, the Delhi government said that 59% less oxygen was supplied as against the demand. The demand was at 976 MT and the supply was at 577 MT. The SOS pleas for oxygen on Twitter continue still.
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