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.
A day earlier, Surya had accused some BBMP employees of the Bengaluru war room for COVID support, of having sold hospital beds in exchange of bribes, following which two people were arrested.
‘Bed Scam’ Takes Communal Turn
The WhatsApp message listed names of 16 Muslim employees of the BBMP, branding them as “terrorists killing thousands of Bengalurians.”
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).”
“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.
What Tejasvi Said at BBMP
On 4 May, Surya who reached the BBMP war room near Basavanagudi in Bengaluru, was seen questioning the administrative officials there. Surya also read out 16 names, all presumably Muslims, from a list he was carrying with him. The MP was accompanied by two BJP MLAs, LA Ravi Subramanya and M Satish Reddy.
In a video of the MP, which has gone viral, 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 there on 5 May, after the matter seemingly took a communal turn.
The MP, in the 4 May, video is also heard reading out 16 names and asking, “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?” Surya went on to ask why no someone with an MBBS degree was not in charge.
Meanwhile. the Bengaluru Police arrested two agents – Rohit and Netra – and booked them for allegedly “selling” ICU beds to patients. “They used to charge Rs 50,000 for beds. Police seized Rs 1.05 lakh from their bank accounts,” a media release from the city police read. 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.
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