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How Fake Covid Certificates Are Mocking Vaccination in Kashmir
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How Fake Covid Certificates Are Mocking Vaccination in Kashmir

Mountain Ink spoke to several residents who have managed to get a fake vaccination certificate. Many among them are students, teachers, and businessmen.


SRINAGAR — Sehrish was tense. She was unvaccinated when the government announced the reopening of colleges but made vaccination a precondition for students to attend the classes physically.

A 21-year-old college student, Sehrish rushed to her mother to apprise her about the issue. Her mother assured her that she would get her vaccination certificate in a matter of a few days.

The mother called some relative in the health department, provided him a phone number and within days the certificate was ready.

Mountain Ink spoke to several residents who have managed to get a fake vaccination certificate. Many among them are students, teachers, and businessmen who needed to travel.

Munazah, a government teacher,  said that her school Headmaster managed to get a fake certificate for the whole staff, in a similar manner.

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The government employees were directed to get vaccinated to get their salaries drawn. “We were very scared of getting vaccinated as there were so many rumours, so our Headmaster got fake certificates issued for all of us,” she said.

Although the staff later got vaccinated but didn’t register. “I myself got vaccinated later, but I didn’t register myself, as I already had a certificate,” she said.

Amir Bashir, a student, recently got a call from GMC Baramulla, and was asked to get the second dose of vaccine. Amir said he told them that he was not in Kashmir and could not get vaccinated. A week later, Amir downloaded his vaccination certificate to submit it to his college and was surprised to find himself fully vaccinated.

A recent report by Check Point Research suggests that fake vaccine certifications have now evolved into a whole industry. The report revealed that fake vaccination certificates and fake test results of 29 different countries, including India, are being sold on Telegram, with the price of a single fake certificate in India amounting to $75 or about Rs 5,500.

While in India fake certificates are being sold, in Kashmir people are getting vaccination certificates for free.

Sajid, a young man, said that he went to Sopore sub-district hospital to get vaccinated, but received a certificate without even getting vaccinated. “I went to the hospital to get vaccinated and was asked to get myself registered. Within seconds I received a link and downloaded my certificate without even getting vaccinated,” Sajid said.

He was happy that he got a certificate and didn’t bother to inquire about it. Then after a few months, he received a congratulatory SMS for getting a second dose and being fully vaccinated. But he never vaccinated.

Munazah said that when one of her colleagues got vaccinated and asked her for help to download his certificate, three more certificates were already registered on his number. “When I logged in to the portal using her phone number, there were three more people already registered, whom she didn’t even know,” Munazah said.

Many in Kashmir have also received fake messages from CoWIN which declares them or a person known to them as ‘fully vaccinated’, even though they may have taken only one dose of the vaccine so far.

The CoWIN platform is linked to the Union government’s National Health Portal and has been offered by the prime minister as a “digital public good” to the world. However, amidst reports of glitches, wrong certification, and similar mistakes, the UK government has said that the app’s functioning and security protocols are a hurdle in greenlighting travel without quarantine for vaccinated Indians.

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Several doctors said it was an “unfortunate development” particularly at a time when the coronavirus continues to pose grave risks to public health.

Meanwhile, Dr Saleem ur Rehman, Director of General Health, Family Welfare and Immunisation, J&K, denied that fake certificates were being issued. “I haven’t heard of any such incidents and have no information.” He said if at all this has happened, strict action will be taken against the people involved, as it is a “serious offence”.  

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