Tejasvi Surya effect: Trauma, harassment and suspension

The Tejasvi Surya effect: Trauma, harassment and suspension

Two days after Surya read out a list of Muslim staffers in the BBMP war zone, the 17 members have been branded as 'terrorists'

Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya. Credit: DH Photo

Minutes after Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya read out a list of 17 Muslim staffers while making allegations about the bed blocking scam, Ayesha Shaikh, a BBMP helpline staffer, received a call from a person introducing himself as a patient but had a different query: "Is there a Muslim call receiver next to you? How many more are they going to kill?"

Two days after Surya read out a list of staffers from the minority community, the 17 members have been branded as 'terrorists', subjected to harassment and threat messages besides spending two days in a police station hoping for an early conclusion to the inquiry.

Only one of the 17 members worked on the bed-blocking facility six days before the South Zone war room was "raided" by Surya and three MLAs. The other 16 others answered helplines and uploaded patient data in the centre. They had no access to the bed-blocking system and they all worked different shifts.

Read | Hospital bed scam: Searches conducted at BBMP Covid war rooms

Clarifying his position, the MP has said that he was enquiring about the appointment of the 17 persons who were already dismissed from the job. However, officials said some of the staffers were busy answering patients' calls even as the MP's team asked, "Are you appointing people for corporation or Madarasa?"

Zameer Pasha, a 22-year-old graduate, was appointed for the call centre on April 25 for a monthly salary of Rs 13,500. "I just completed my B.Com. Instead of searching for a stable job in lockdown, I thought this will help me gain a unique experience of serving society. I received anywhere from 100 to 200 calls most of them by frantic and emotional persons. I took down the details, from name to BU Number and oxygen saturation and gave it to the doctor for further advice. That's it," he said.

Following allegations by Surya, all the 17 staffers have been suspended. However, the shock of their lives came on Tuesday night when the police took them to the Jayanagar station. "We were taken by police at about 10 pm and released at around 3.30 am. I am an educated person. I know that I have not done anything. The police only asked us questions. But what will I tell my family and how do I explain it? I felt terrible. In the middle of all these, we were receiving threats on WhatsApp and other social media," another staffer said.

Read | Karnataka bed-blocking scam: Congress backs 17 Muslims named by BJP MP Tejasvi Surya

Shivu Naik, Manager of Crystal Infosystems and Services, said all the 17 members will be restored once the CCB submits a report saying they are clean. "At least 16 of these staffers have no access to bed blocking systems. However, even if we know they are innocent, we have decided to keep their job on hold because if someone is called for an inquiry in the middle of work, the war room will face a problem," he said.

He said the company provides manpower to various departments, including Home and Revenue Departments. "We are working with the government for the last 20 years. We have assured all the 17 staffers that their jobs are secure," he said.

Ayesha, however, questioned the unnecessary trauma caused by the MP. "The MP and MLAs should apologise to all the 17 members for the trauma caused. We don't want to get into politics but we definitely want justice. The mental harassment and humiliation we have faced is enough," she said.