Police in Delhi have arrested a teenage imposter who successfully posed as a doctor at a prestigious university hospital for five months.
Adnan Khurram was a familiar face to doctors and students at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
In his five months at the institute, he threw himself into the institute’s extra-curricular activities, attending union meetings and even participating in a marathon organised by AIIMS.
In reality, the clean-cut youngster was not a doctor – in fact, he was a 19-year-old with no medical qualifications.
Khurram, who has been charged with impersonation and forgery, did not see any patients or perform medical procedures during his five-month stunt.
However, he made no attempt to keep a low profile on campus. His social media accounts show he “had uploaded many photographs wearing a doctor’s coat and stethoscope”, says The Hindustan Times.
The young man’s “colleagues” were baffled by how he could have kept the deception going for so long.
“He would roam around wearing the lab coat and stethoscope all the time,” Harjit Singh, president of the residents doctors’ association on campus, told the Times.
“He had even made his way to the WhatsApp groups.”
Singh added that he thought Khurram was able to blend in because of the size of the faculty, home to 2,000 resident doctors, and by giving conflicting accounts of his identity.
“To some, he would claim that he was a junior resident doctor while to junior resident doctors, he would introduce himself as an undergraduate medical student.” he said.
After his conflicting accounts began to raise suspicions, Khurram was cornered by AIIMS staff while running in a marathon organised by doctors. When he could not satisfactorily answer their questions, he was handed in to authorities.
Police said that the teenager had a “surprising” knowledge of medicine and was able to reel off the names of the institute’s doctors and department heads.
The 19-year-old has been dubbed “Munna Bhai” in the Indian press, after the titular character in a popular 2003 film about a Mumbai hoodlum posing as a medical student.
His motivations for the deception are unclear. “It is suspected that he posed as a doctor to help his relative get access to facilities at AIIMS,” says the Times of India, although other publications report that Khurram also told investigators that he wanted to become a doctor.