Mistake Admitted? Tejasvi Surya Apologises to BBMP Officer, Staff
Surya apologised not just to Safaraz Khan but also the Bengaluru South war room employees whom he had pulled up.
On the phone, the voice was unmistakably clear. It was Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya apologising.
Safaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, confirmed to The Quint, “He said he is sorry that my name got dragged into the controversy around the BBMP bed scam. He said he never mentioned my name when he pulled up officers in the war room.”
Khan was one among the officers of BBMP whose name was circulated in a WhatsApp message that accused 16 Muslim men of being “terrorists” taking “Hindu lives”.
Communal Tensions Rise
Tejasvi Surya had triggered a communal campaign that targeted Muslim and Christian BBMP employees, when he, along with three MLAs of the BJP, stormed into the Bengaluru South war room accusing officials of bulk booking hospital beds and selling them in the black market. In the war room encounter, the MP had read out 16 names of BBMP’s contractual employees – all of whom were Muslims. These names too were circulated on social media and 17 contractual employees of the Bengaluru war room were sacked.
On Thursday, 6 May, Tejasvi Surya made a call to Khan. “I told him that WhatsApp groups have circulated my name. He told me that if I face trouble, he will be there to help,” Khan said.
The officer who had first questioned “anti-social elements” of “spreading poison”, said that the MP should not have “targeted one particular community”.
‘Why Target One Community?’
Khan who has not been working for the war room said, “The MP had every right to pull up people who have mismanaged. But does he have proof? It should not have been used to target one community. Out of 214 employees in the war room, he mentioned 16 who are Muslims,” Khan said.
Meanwhile on Friday, the MP visited the war room and apologised to employees there.
According to a senior official at the Bengaluru South war room, the MP apologised for having read out the list of names. He reportedly said, “I am sorry I read out the names given to me in a list. I know that the war room was affected.” The MP, however, did not say whether he had proof of misdemeanour.
Meanwhile, Khan said, “This is the time when people are dying without oxygen. This is the time when we are reminded that human life matters. In such a time, we should work together as a family and not create communal tension.” Khan added that since 2020, he had been working on COVID care assignments.
“I see 40 bodies burning in the pyre each day and get palpitations at night. I am anxious. In the middle of all this, such accusations are distressing,” he said.
Tejasvi Surya’s apology, however, was made discreetly without media glare. “If he could storm into the war room and make a media spectacle out of his visit there on Wednesday, 5 May, could he not have rendered a public apology?” a senior officer of BBMP asked. Khan refused to share his thoughts on the public apology.
He, however, said, “There should be some effort to reassure everyone that we are a family and that we will be there for each other.”
Later during the day Tejasvi Surya’s office issued a statement that said in crux that he had not rendered an apology. The Quint, however, has an audio recording of Surya’s apology in the war room.
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