On the surface, Veeragantham Teja seemed like a high-flying medical doctor - serving in 16 private hospitals over a span of four years, and volunteering in several medical camps and attending to migrant workers, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The truth, however, was far from that. The conman, in his early 20s, was a 5th-grade dropout with no medical education whatsoever, who somehow managed to lie his way through a colourful career, and elude the authorities at the same time.

As the Tamil saying goes "Aavadhum Pennale Azhivathum Pennale (A woman can create, or destroy)", Veeragantham's undoing came after his second wife lodged a police report against him, alleging mental and physical harassment, after a domestic dispute on Sept 10.

Acting on the complaint, the Telangana police found four other previous cases, ranging from cheating people of money to criminal intimidation, filed against the suspect, under many other aliases. When they started digging further, what they found would stump them.

For four years, Veeragantham somehow conned his way through the health industry, using fake medical qualifications and certificates. Even when was arrested in Bengaluru in 2016, for a charge of impersonating an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer (he was eventually acquitted of the charge), Veeragantham managed to preserve his fake qualifications as a medical practitioner.

According to reports, Veeragantham ran away from home in 2005 and spent his days peddling snacks and mineral water on trains across several big cities in India. This is where his path crossed with one doctor YS Purushotaman Reddy, who gave a job and shelter to the youth.

It is during this time Veeragantham got the taste, and thirst for the high status and elevation in society with being a doctor.

During his internship, Veeragantham picked up basic medical skills, and became fluent in English, Hindi, and Kannada. He would later work at several super-speciality hospitals without rousing any suspicion.

Veeragantham, who the police has described as "very clever, but with potential to harm the society", is now under custody to facilitate investigations and cops have also arrested his father, and another suspect who owned the education consultancy which sold the forged documents.

Police are also now zooming in on education consultancies which run rackets providing fake certificates for a price.

Source: indianexpress.com
Photo source: indianexpress.com, Astro Awani