The mask supplier Aparajita International’s owner Sharmin Jahan is also an assistant registrar at Dhaka University, sources say
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) authorities have filed a case against the owner of Aparajita International for supplying fake N95 masks.
Shahbagh police station Officer-In-charge (OC) Abul Hasan confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune on Friday.
BSMMU Proctor Prof Syed Mozaffor Ahmed on behalf of the hospital filed the case against Aparajita International owner Sharmin Jahan on Thursday evening, the OC said.
“We are taking necessary steps as per the law against the accused,” he added.
From the very beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, BSMMU was conducting tests and collecting samples from suspected Covid-19 patients.
On May 27, the hospital also started treating Covid-19 patients following guidelines setup by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
In light of this decision, it was decided to immediately purchase masks for healthcare workers who were treating Covid-19 patients at BSMMU.
After a screening process, Sharmin, the owner of Aparajita International, got the order to supply 11,000 N95 masks.
BSMMU Vice Chancellor (VC), Prof Dr Kanak Kanti Barua, speaking with this correspondent said they received the complaint about fake masks from doctors at the hospital.
After these allegations, mask supplier Aparajita International took back the lot of fake masks they supplied, and BSMMU also cancelled its contract with the company, the VC said.
On July 18, BSMMU authorities also issued a show cause notice to Aparajita International about the incident, in reply to which she said “sorry.”
The notice mentioned that this incident of supplying fake masks for doctors treating Covid-19 patients was not at all acceptable, Prof Kanak said.
“A probe committee was formed to investigate the matter. After the report of the investigation was submitted, we decided to file a case against the organization and its owner,” the VC added.
On June 30, after receiving the work order, the company supplied the first lot of 1,300 masks and on the same day the second lot of 460 masks was supplied.
On July 2, the third lot with 1,000 masks were supplied to BSMMU and on July 13 the fourth lot of 700 pieces of masks were supplied.
The first and second lots did not have any quality issues. But the third and fourth lots were found to have faulty products and did not meet specifications for the N95 mask.
The braces of some face masks were found to be torn, and the printed text of some face masks had faulty English text.
And in some of the masks, "counterfeit” information was found during the authentication process when cross checked against the manufacturer’s website, with a complete checking of the security code and lot number content.
The authorities realized that the masks were poor in quality and standard, which put the lives of Covid-19 healthcare fighters in grave danger.
Aparajita owner Sharmin, who is an assistant registrar at the Dhaka University, dismissed the allegations as “conspiracies” against her.
“We did not supply fake masks. These products have been imported from China. We did not manufacture them. We are just supplying,” she told Dhaka Tribune.
The BSMMU could have informed them if the products were faulty, Sharmin said before adding: “We could have checked them.”
A 2012 Islamic Studies graduate of the Dhaka University, Sharmin served as the president of Chhatra League’s Kuwait Maitree Hall unit.
She was also a member of the Awami League’s central sub-committee on women and children affairs.
Sharmin said that she went to study in China in 2016 and returned in March this year.