Detective Branch (DB) of police tonight arrested Sharmin Jahan, proprietor of Aparajita International, in a case filed by BSMMU authorities over supplying fake N95 masks to the hospital's Covid-19 isolation unit.
Sazzadur Rahman, deputy commissioner (Ramna Division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police confirmed the development, saying she was arrested from the capital's Shahbag area at around 10:20pm.
BSMMU Proctor Prof Syed Mozaffar Ahmed filed the case against Sharmin Jahan, proprietor of Aparajita International, with Shahbagh Police Station on Thursday night.
According to sources, Sharmin is a member of Awami League's Central Sub-Committee on Women and Children.
Previously, she was a leader of Chhatra League during her studentship at Dhaka University's Department of Islamic Studies and at Netrokona College.
She currently works as an assistant registrar at the DU registrar office.
Contacted, Sheikh Muhammad Shamim, assistant commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Ramna zone), said, "We have started investigation into the case already and would take action against the responsible one shortly."
WHAT DOES THE FIR READ?
According to the First Information Report (FIR), BSMMU authorities deiced to purchase safety gears for the frontline doctors of newly launched Covid-19 unit on May 27.
Receiving verbal instructions from BSMMU authorities, several companies provided masks samples. Those were later sent to Dysin International Ltd, a DGHS approved lab, for tests.
The lab report mentioned Aparajita International's samples to be the best.
Later, BSMMU authorities sought pricing of the masks from Aparajita International on June 23 and received the quotation on the next day.
On June 27, BSMMU approved the work order to provide 11,000 N95 masks in the name of Aparajita International.
The company then supplied around 3,460 N95 masks in four consignments. They first supplied 1,300 pieces on June 30, 460 pieces on July 02, 700 pieces on July 02 and 1,000 pieces on July 13.
SHOW-CAUSE NOTICE SERVED, RESPONSE NOT SATISFACTORY
BSMMU Proctor Prof Syed Mozaffar Ahmed told The Daily Star that Aparijita International supplied first two consignments rightly but the third and fourth consignments had faulty masks.
This is why the authorities filed a forgery case against Aparijita International, he said.
Meanwhile, Brig Gen Dr Zulfiquer Ahmed Amin, director (hospital) of BSMMU, told The Daily Star that they first spotted spelling mistakes on the boxes supplied by Aparajita International.
"As the masks were imported from America, there was no chance of any spelling error on it," he said, adding a number of masks' ribbons also teared up while doctors tried to use those.
Noticing the problem, the authorities called the supplier, returned around 959 masks to them, and served them with a show-cause notice to explain why the faulty masks were supplied, he said.
Aparijita International did respond to show-cause notice after three days, he said, adding, "We found the response not satisfactory. Thus, we deiced to take legal actions and filed the case."
SYNDICATE, CONSPIRACY BEHIND THE CASE
Sharmin Jahan, proprietor of Aparajita International, told The Daily Star that she did not provide any fake mask to the hospital.
"We supplied the third and fourth consignments on July 2 and July 13 and an assistant director of the hospital received our products. If there was a problem, why the hospital authorities inform us after a week?" she asked.
Sharmin further said that she was not the manufacturer.
"I purchase the masks from another company and then sell those. The hospital authorities does not even make payments for the supplies."
Asked about her response to the show-cause notice, she said there was no chance of providing fake masks as an assistant director of the hospital checked and received those.
"Still, I said sorry as a part of well gesture. That does not mean I accepted my fault," she said.
Mentioning about a large syndicate in the hospital, she alleged that she was becoming a victim to a conspiracy.
"If the hospital authority did not like me, they could blacklist me. But they filed a case. My lawyer would also take necessary steps and take further actions regarding the false complaint against me," she added.
Meanwhile, Enamuzzaman, registrar of DU, told The Daily Star that they knew Sharmin as a university employee and she was on study leave for a PhD degree.
"Recently, she communicated with us and submitted an application for her rejoining," he said.
Asked about the company and the case, Enamuzzaman said that Sharmin did not inform the university about any company.
"We would definitely look into the issue and take steps," he added.