The Central Crime Branch (CCB) of Bengaluru City Police on Monday, May 24, arrested a close associate of BJP MLA Satish Reddy in connection with the COVID-19 bed allotment scam. The 34-year-old will be in police custody till May 31.
The accused, identified as Babu, is allegedly acquainted with Reddy's personal assistant. The police are yet to ascertain his links with the MLA, contacts at the war room, including doctors and staff of the facility. His role in the scam came to light after the department reviewed CCTV footage of the war room and recorded the statements of the staff members, reported The News Minute.
A resident of Roopena Agrahara in Bommanahalli, Babu, has been accused of hoarding the beds dedicated to COVID patients and selling them at exorbitant prices. He acted as a broker to acquire the beds.
The department also got hold of the technical data and have questioned the in-charge of each zone war room. Earlier, five people, identified as Nethravathi, Rohith, Venkat Subba Rao, Manjunath and Punith, were arrested in the case.
"The accused is said to have run the racket with Netravati, a social activist, and Rohith Kumar. The duo used to get customers for the beds, while Babu ensured the bed availability," a CCB official told The Indian Express.
On April 30, Babu and others had manhandled probationary IAS officer V Yashvantha at Bommanahalli war room over bed allotments. Yashvantha had questioned the accused's frequent presence in the room. It soon escalated into a full-blown argument, a video of which was widely circulated on social media.
The state Congress party has questioned Surya on whether he would hold a press conference and explain the matter.
The development comes in the backdrop of the racket that Bengaluru South MP, Tejasvi Surya, claimed to have busted in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on May 4.
Surya and his uncle and Basavanagudi MLA Ravi Subramanya, Bommanahalli MLA Satish Reddy and Chickpet MLA Uday Garudhachar had visited the Bengaluru South COVID-19 war room to flag the scam.
Surya had read out a list of 17 Muslims working in the facility and questioned their appointment. He alleged that hospitals in Bengaluru blocked beds under fake names to mint money and alleged a nexus among BBMP officials and outside agents, private nursing homes and hospitals for reserving these beds and further selling them for high prices.
The party workers had called up patients under whose names the beds were blocked and discovered that those patients had never asked for one and recovered after home isolation. The party also released audio recordings of the people involved in the booking fraud. Post the allegations, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa ordered an investigation into the matter.
It was later found out that Reddy reportedly used his influence to book beds blocked by the Bommanahalli Zone War Room. This came into light after a man, alleged to be a close associate of Reddy, was seen visiting the war room, instructing staff to allot beds to asymptomatic people.
The man, said to be a close aide of Reddy, was taken out of the war room after the BBMP officials paid a surprise visit to the war room.
The following day, a mob in HSR Layout staged a protest against the BBMP officials for ousting the man and shoved some officials. The authorities took no action against the miscreants. Later, Reddy took to social media, denying all the allegations against him.