Bengaluru South BJP MP Tejasvi Surya, on Monday, 10 May, claimed he had “nothing to apologise for” and, in a video that has since gone viral, appeared to evade reporters’ questions on why he singled out 16 Muslim individuals among the 200 plus BBMP staffers — a decision that led to the immediate removal of 17 staffers and a barrage of Islamophobic fake news being peddled on WhatsApp.
As per The Deccan Herald, Surya even ended the press conference, claiming that he doesn’t want his attention to be diverted from the bed allocation scam, after he was asked why the Muslim staffers were taken to the police station twice.
16 of the 17 staffers, who were removed after Surya’s purportedly communal singling out, were reinstated after the police gave them a clean-chit. However, The Indian Express quoted a senior BBMP official overseeing the operation of war rooms, saying that only 11 of them chose to return to work.
Surya had convened Monday’s press meet in order to list out reforms to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) Central Hospital Bed Management System (CHBMS).
WHAT SURYA CLAIMS
Refusing to answer direct questions on why he read out names of only Muslim staffers, Surya said:
"“It is true that I went and spoke to people at the war room. Why should I apologise when I have not made any communal remark? I have not apologised to anybody. I just asked why and how these people (Muslim employees whose names he read out) were appointed.”"
Further, he quoted BBMP Chief Commissional Gaurav Gupta and stated that the staffers had been ‘removed’ as part of a restructuring process even before he had read the list. However, as per Declan Herald, this claim has been dismissed by staffers who were working in the war room when Surya had read out the names.
While Surya claimed that the intention was not to target a community, what had followed as consequence of him storming the war-room and naming the staffers, was a barrage of social media messages branding the staffers as “terrorists” denying bed to “Hindu patients”. The authorities had to subsequently step in and point out that those staffers had, in fact, been working on helpline or uploading patient data, and were not connected to the bed blocking facility.
The Bengaluru BJP MP allegedly 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.
MORE DETAILS FROM THE PRESS MEET
Tejasvi Surya, at the press meet, announced some reforms to the BBMP CHBMS. These include:
A new two-factor authentication that would send out an SMS alert to the patient allotted a bed.
The reservation time for each hospital bed had been reduced to four hours, from the original period of 10 hours. “Now, bed booking is valid only for four hours with an option to re-block in exceptional cases,” Surya said.
A queue system will be introduced so that patients on wait list will get the beds on priority.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and Deccan Herald.)
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