Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has been forced to leave India due to the increasing number of threats he and his family were receiving from vested interest groups in the country. The threats to Poonawalla became particularly striking after the Modi government announced its vaccine liberalisation and universalisation programme. As state governments and powerful individuals in the country started demanding vaccines for themselves haphazardly, Adar Poonawalla was left with no choice but to fly off to London. The most startling revelation, however, was made by India Today journalist Rahul Kanwal.
Rahul Kanwal, while covering the results, in a rather lengthy slip of the tongue, revealed how Adar Poonawalla’s SII factory in Pune was gheraoed by Shiv Sena goons. “…And I actually saw this. He (Adar Poonawalla) sent me some videos of some Shiv Sena locals showing up outside his factory, giving him the choicest of gaalis (abuses) and saying ‘humko pehle do’ (give us the vaccines first) and this is bizarre.”
Shocking if true. Did Shiv Sena local hoodlums turn up at SII demanding vaccines? Please share this with every single idiot who keeps on praising the Maharashtra dispensation. pic.twitter.com/PRpf7Q3J8b
— Nemo (@NonsensicalNemo) May 2, 2021
In an interview with The Times recently, Poonawalla was quoted as saying, “Threats is an understatement. The level of expectations and aggression is really unprecedented. It’s overwhelming. Everyone feels they should get the vaccine. They can’t understand why anyone else should get it before them.” The SII CEO detailed how calls received by him drift in a very different direction from where they began, to the effect that Poonwalla said, “They are saying if you don’t give us the vaccine, it’s not going to be good…It’s not the foul language, it’s the tone. It’s the implication of what they might do if I don’t comply. It’s taking control.”
Earlier, TFI had reported how, due to the nature of threats being received by Adar Poonawalla, the Ministry of Home Affairs was forced to issue orders granting him Y-category security cover across India. The Y-category security usually comprises 11 personnel, including one or two commandoes and police personnel. Adar Poonawalla has been targeted on social media by mascots of liberalism for what they think is an exorbitant pricing scheme of the Serum Institute of India, which had previously announced that it would sell Covishield vaccines to state governments at the rate of Rs. 400 per vial. However, keeping in mind the liberal opposition to the announcement, Adar Poonawalla decided to reduce the initial price by ₹100 to ₹300 per vial.
Now that it has come out in the open how Shiv Sena’s goons were harassing Serum Institute of India, its employees and Adar Poonawalla, the party supremo indeed owes an explanation to the people of the country. If his party is responsible for SII looking for alternate venues of vaccine production, instead of expanding within India, the Shiv Sena must be brought to the book. They are not only making Maharashtra an unfavourable business destination but are also imperilling India’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign.