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Tejasvi Surya’s ‘Bed Scam’ Claim in Bengaluru Takes Communal Turn

A message naming 16 people, believed to be Muslim employees of the BBMP, was circulated on Twitter and WhatsApp. 

Updated
COVID-19
3 min read
BJP MP from Bengaluru South, Tejasvi Surya, has accused some officials of the BBMP of running ‘a massive racket’ in hospital bed allotment.
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A day after BJP MP from Bengaluru South, Tejasvi Surya, accused some officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) of running ‘a massive racket’ in hospital bed allotment, a joint commissioner in the city municipal body alleged in a Facebook post that ‘anti-social elements’ were inciting communal tension and ‘spreading poison.’

Sarfaraz Khan, the joint commissioner, was responding to a viral WhatsApp message, accusing the BBMP’s Muslim employees of mismanagement. The viral message had listed names of 16 presumably Muslim employees of the BBMP, branding them as “terrorists killing thousands of Bengalurians.”

A day earlier, Surya had purportedly questioned the appointment of the same 16 employees, as seen in a widely circulated clip from inside the Bengaluru war room.

‘Bed Scam’ Takes Communal Turn

In his response on Facebook, Khan wrote, “Extremely pained to see a WhatsApp message being circulated in social media were in my name is being dragged for alleged mismanagement in the BBMP war-room, established for the allocation of beds. It was shocking for the simple reason that, I have no role in the war-room...My job is to take care of BBMP COVID care centres and solid waste management department (sic).”

Several Twitter users had circulated names of the Muslim employees of the BBMP.
Several Twitter users had circulated names of the Muslim employees of the BBMP.
(Image Courtesy: Twitter)
“I am completely pained because a communal angle is given to this issue... blaming me, who has no knowledge and no concern with that department,” he wrote. 

He explained that the health department and zonal officers of the BBMP do the recruitment of doctors and other staff in the war room, adding that he has been working to arrange oxygen and oxygen concentrators.

He even added that the Haj Bhawan had been converted into a 140-bedded oxygenated COVID care centre.

“I believe and have believed that God is one, whether you call him Allah, Eshwar or Jesus... My allegiance is always to my country, to my government and to the Constitution of this country. Really pained by some people’s ignorance or mischief. I hope law takes its course.”
Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, BBMP

The names circulating on social media seem to have sprung from a list the BJP MP had read out during his visit to the COVID war room.

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What Tejasvi Said at BBMP

In a video from 4 May, Surya was seen questioning the administrative officials at the BBMP war room near Basavanagudi in Bengaluru. Surya read out the 16 names, all presumably Muslims, from a list. The MP was accompanied by two BJP MLAs, LA Ravi Subramanya and M Satish Reddy.

Surya is heard asking,

“I want to know about the person who is in charge. How did he get appointed. Dear JC, you would have appointed a person in charge. Who is that? Yasin and Rehan? Where are they? Where is Rehan. Madam, you are here as the zonal commissioner. Tell me how these people got appointed?”

As many as 17 Muslim employees of the Basavanagudi war room protested on 5 May, after the matter seemingly took a communal turn.

The MP, reading out 16 names, asked, “Only their people sent in applications? How did you appoint them? Who are these people? Which agency recruited them? Call the representatives of the agency.” Subramanya is heard asking, “Did you appoint them in the corporation or in some Madrassa?”

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Meanwhile, police in Bengaluru have arrested four persons as of Wednesday evening for alleged corruption and malpractice in allocating beds through the BBMP’s centralised bed allocation system, reported The News Minute.

The four accused are Rihan, Shashi, Rohit, and Netravati, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil told the publication.

He added that four others have also been questioned so far, including a man named Suresh. While the police wanted to arrest Suresh, he is currently isolated as he is COVID-19 positive.

Two FIRs have been registered in connection with this case.

No person by any of the names read out by Surya were apprehended.

‘Under Whose Control is BBMP?’

Meanwhile, the Congress Legislative Party of Karnataka accused the BJP of mishandling the COVID situation in the state.

In a taunting tweet, DK Shivakumar of the Congress wrote, “I congratulate MP Tejasvi Surya, MLAs Satish Reddy, Ravi Subramanya and Uday Garudachar for exposing corruption in bed allocation by their party govt and corporation. Under whose control is BBMP? They should immediately name the BJP Minister responsible for people suffering so much”.

The BJP is indeed the largest member of the Bengaluru civic body.

(With inputs from The News Minute.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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