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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Bribe for Bed

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In these hours of peril, when the entire world is battling an unseen enemy, creating a fake sense of scarcity of medical facilities and equipment is one of the most despicable things that can be done. Unfortunately, this is exactly what had been going on in Bengaluru.

In a press conference on the evening of 4th of May, Member of Parliament from Bengaluru South Tejasvi Surya had alleged that a nexus of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike officials, Arogya Mitras, and staff of certain hospitals have been creating a shortage of beds for Covid-19 patients by blocking them for asymptomatic and home isolated patients, most of who were not even aware of the same, and selling them later at a much higher price to patients who were in actual need of them. There were enough beds in the city but none of them were available for the public as war room personnel had been running a racket of falsely blocking beds and then allotting them to whoever they pleased, Shri Surya had claimed enraged. He had said that activities like this are no less than murder and each one involved needs to be behind bars at the earliest. The racket was supposedly unearthed after dubious patterns of beds being blocked against names of patients who were in home isolation and the re-allotment of the same to others was noticed.

After Tejasvi Surya’s bribe for beds scam expose, Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yediyurappa had stated that severe action would be taken against those involved in the racket and later in the evening, Bengaluru city Police Commissioner Kamal Pant had informed that the case, which was lodged at Jayanagar Police Station and in which two accused were arrested for fraud, had been handed over to the Central Crime Branch of Karnataka Police for an in-depth investigation.

As of 6th May, over seven people have been questioned by the police. This includes four people nabbed by the CCB, along with two doctors, after the two FIRs were transferred, according to Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil. Earlier on Tuesday, Deputy Commissioner of Police Harish Pandey had confirmed the arrest of Nethravathy, a social worker, and Rohith Kumar, her nephew in the said scam after a sting operation conducted by the police. Meanwhile, three others have also been arrested by officers of the Central Division of Bengaluru City Police for their alleged involvement in extorting over Rs 1.2 lakh in the said scam.

Later on, a video also surfaced in which Shri Surya along with Bommanahalli MLA Satish Reddy, Basavanagudi MLA Ravi Subramanya, and Chickpet MLA Uday Garudachar was seen reading out the names of 17 of the 204 staff stationed in the war room, and questioning their recruitment and role.

Interestingly, all 17 of them belonged to the Muslim community which sparked off a major controversy with several opposition leaders and netizens accusing Shri Surya of communalizing the sensitive issue. While the leader of the opposition, Shri Siddaramaiah said BJP leaders were unfairly trying to pin the blame on a particular community for the bed-blocking scam, leader of Janata Dal (Secular) Shri Kumaraswamy also came down heavily on the issue and remarked “Religion does not work, honesty does.”

On the other hand, rejecting all such accusations, Shri Surya has said that he had only read out the names of people who had already been fired after the intervention of the Joint Commissioner. He said, in his defence, that he merely read out the names from a list, asked on what basis they were appointed, and made no allegations against them or any community thereof. He also added that it’s the curse of this country that the moment you name a few people from a particular community, the entire focus is diverted from the main issue.

Sure, some people have cited ulterior motives behind the scheme of events or gone a step ahead to claim that this is a staged drama. But when has such malicious heresy deterred the brave? Staying true to his promises, Tejasvi Surya not only uncovered the problem but also offered a solution when he sought the help of Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys, in revamping the BBMP bed allocation software, right after the probe was ordered into the scam. Under this united move, a very efficient team of tech architects will work on the said software to redesign it into a more efficient and transparent version with minimal manual operation.

Shri Surya’s intervention has come amid a time when Karnataka, like the rest of India, is reeling under the unprecedented Covid-19 second wave. The state’s total cases rose to 17,41,046 after 50,112 fresh cases were registered on the 6th of May. Daily cases in the state are likely to rise further since the peak projected by experts is yet to arrive. In such testing times, the young MP’s initiatives towards serving the troubled have been lauded across the nation.

Whether this is pure passion and ambition towards serving the nation like most of us believe or a communalisation of events and a political stunt might remain a question. But the city of Bengaluru has benefitted from the daring efforts of the dynamic youth leader. Indeed, Tejasvi Surya has proved that the future is in the hands of the youth. And once our youth realizes its true potential, nothing can stop our nation from emerging at its zenith.

[author title=”Megha Satapathy” image=”https://goachronicle.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/IMG_20210205_095950.jpg”]Intern, Goa Chronicle[/author]

DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author

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