A day after BJP Member of Parliament from Bengaluru South Tejasvi Surya accused some officials of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) of running ‘a massive racket’ in hospital bed allotment, 117 citizens on Thursday, 6 May have condemned the MP’s move for bringing out a communal spin to the issue.
Surya had purportedly questioned the appointment of 17 BBMP employees, as seen in a widely circulated clip from inside the Bengaluru war room.
The letter noted that despite the control room having “more than 200 people from various communities, Mr. Surya cherrypicked and singled out a list of 17 Muslim workers alleging them of the scam (sic).”
A WhatsApp message began circulating listing out the same presumably Muslim employees named by Surya, calling them terrorists. Many of these employees have been fired as well.
The letter, accessed by The Quint, noted how “the highly respected, Joint Commissioner Solid Waste Management, Mr Sarfraz Khan was accused that the war room headed by him was responsible for many deaths (sic)”.
Khan had denied the allegations and claimed in a Facebook post that ‘anti-social elements’ were inciting communal tension and ‘spreading poison’. The letter praised Khan saying his, “exemplary commitment to humanity is well known among officials and civil society members”.
“These antics by Tejasvi Surya and other BJP legislators can only dishearten volunteers from various communities, whose selfless work has been the backbone of the state’s response to the pandemic. It is also a signal to other communal groups that the pandemic can again be communalised by such vigilante actions, much like in the first wave when Tablighi Jamaat members and Muslim communities were targeted”, said the letter.
This comes at a time when the state, as well as the entire country is losing patients not just to COVID deaths, but due to shortage of Oxygen, ICU and ventilator beds. “The criminal negligence and ineptitude of both state and central government has never before had such widespread disastrous consequences,” stated the letter.
Recently, over 25 patients lost their lives in Chamarajanagar district and five in Kalaburagi district due to a shortage of medical oxygen. There are many such instances that have gripped the state at large.
“The need of the hour is more and better medical infrastructure, supplies and management. But what the four BJP legislators have done is dish out communal hatred in the name of uncovering a scam in his own government,” said the letter.
Calling the incident a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code, the letter enunciates that publishing rumours on grounds of religion (among others) that can promote feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different communities can be fined or imprisoned, the letter stated, “Tejasvi Surya listing out of Muslim volunteers only is a desperate and pathetic attempt to communalise the pandemic.”
The letter also notes how the act violates communal harmony, which are two other criminal offences under IPC, calling it a “tactic” meant to “divert public attention and scrutiny from the negligent and inept management by central and state government”.
The concerned citizens asked for four action points namely:
Bengaluru Police should take suo motu cognizance and register a criminal case against Tejasvi Surya, Ravi Subramanya, Uday Garudachar and Satish Reddy and everyone involved in this operation for their attempts to communalise the pandemic.
The BJP government should focus their attention on urgently setting up primary and secondary High Dependency Units (HDUs) so that patients do not crowd the tertiary facilities and ICUs.
The Karnataka state government should issue strong statements condemning the acts of these members of the legislature and encourage volunteers to come together across religion, caste, gender, geography, physical ability, sexual orientation, etc and the ministers should tender an apology.
We urge the Central government to allocate oxygen, medicines and vaccines as they are being demanded by the Karnataka state government.
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