A lawyer who has been in touch with the employees told TNM that 5 do not want to go back as they found the entire experience traumatizing.

Tejasvi Surya visiting BBMP South Zone War Room
news COVID-19 Monday, May 10, 2021 - 11:30

All 16 Muslim employees of Bengaluru’s South Zone War Room on COVID-19, who were asked to leave after Tejasvi Surya read out their names and thundered who hired them to an IAS officer, have been reinstated by the BBMP.  A lawyer who has been in touch with the employees told TNM that the other 5 do not want to go back as they found the entire experience traumatizing. The BBMP has told the agency that hired them that they can be taken back.

Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya had last week visited the COVID-19 war room and read out the names of 16 Muslim employees. On the same day, he held a press meet alleging a bed scam in the war room. Soon after, messages started doing the rounds claiming that these 16 men were part of the bed scam, though Tejasvi Surya did not ‘directly’ make the allegation. 

The Times of India quoted a police officer who is probing the scam as saying that all the 17 employees who were named by Tejasvi were questioned, but nothing conclusive was found against them in case of their involvement in the scam. 

Speaking to TOI, Special BBMP chief (south zone) Thulasi Maddineni said eleven out of the 16 had asked for their suspension to be withdrawn and that they be rehired, while the other six had not asked for their jobs back.

All 16 of them are in their 20s, some of the college students. Only one of the 16 was on the bed allocation team, while others were working for different sections like death and discharge, home isolation and indexing.

Tejasvi and the list

When questioned later by the media, Tejasvi claimed that he had read out a list given to him by Joint Commissioner Veerabhadraswamy, but no one from the BBMP has yet made it clear why this list was made. Kannada newspaper Prajavani reported that a BJP MLA asked the BBMP to remove all Muslim employees in the war room and the list was prepared as the BBMP agreed to transfer them instead of removing them. The BBMP South Zone war room had around 212 employees of which 19 were Muslims, including three Muslim women. Only the 16 men were part of this list.

Tejasvi Surya had last week addressed a press conference alleging a “dishonourable and an unholy nexus” of representatives of zonal helplines, BBMP officials and hospitals, which allegedly created a false scarcity of beds. He said that in over 4,000 instances, the BBMP in-charge books the bed in the name of an asymptomatic patient as soon as he or she is informed of a vacant bed. 

A day later, Tejasvi visited the war room and apologised to the other (non Muslim) staff after their names and numbers were also leaked on social media platforms, and many had to face harassment, including sexual harassment. However, he did not apologise to the Muslim employees whose names were read out.

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