The Delhi Police has arrested three persons who allegedly used to paint fire extinguishers as oxygen cylinders and sell them to needy people, officials said on Wednesday.
The accused have been identified as Ravi Sharma (40), Mohammad Abdul (38) and Shambhu Shah (30), all residents of Alipur, they said.
Police said the matter came to light Tuesday after a person named Mukesh Khanna, who runs Radha Vallabh Sewa Sangh NGO which serves free oxygen cylinders to Covid patients, filed a complaint at the Farsh Bazar police station.
Khanna alleged that one oxygen cylinder distributer, Varsha Engineering at Apni Colony, Alipur, had sold him oxygen cylinders at ₹ 5,500 per for 4.5 liters.
When he contacted the same distributor again and asked for more cylinders, the distributer demanded ₹ 13,000 for per 4.5 liters cylinder, a senior police office said.
On the complaint, a raiding team reached the location at Alipur where three people were found engaged in painting some gas cylinders in black color, the officer said.
“During enquiry, it was found that distributor Ravi Sharma was removing red paint of fire cylinders which were used for filling of CO2 and was converting them into oxygen cylinders by painting them black with the help of Abdul and Shah,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Shahdara) R Sathiyasundaram said.
Sharma and his associates have cheated the complainant by selling fire extinguishing cylinders as oxygen cylinders at an exorbitant rate. All three accused persons were arrested, the DCP said.
Police seized 532 fire extinguisher iron gas cylinders of different sizes, 26 oxygen gas cylinder nozzles, two electric grinders used to remove the red paint of the cylinders, three silver color spray-paint cans, one black paint box, one paint-brush, one pipe-wrench and ₹ 49,500 cash were recovered from their possession, police said.
During interrogation, it was found that the accused used to collect the empty or expired fire extinguisher cylinders and sell it either as scrap or refill the CO2 for fire-fighting, police said.
Due to the ongoing oxygen crisis in view of the COVID pandemic, they planned a conspiracy to remove the red colour of the original cylinder, repaint it with black, and fix nozzle to make it similar to oxygen cylinder, police said.
The accused also confessed that he has already sold many such cylinders, police added.