May 11, 2021
NEW DELHI – Sixteen Muslim employees, Out of 17 who were suspended from Covid War Room after South Bangalore MP Tejasvi Surya’s objections, were reinstated by Bangalore Municipal Corporation BBMP. However, five of those employees refused to join back saying that they were targeted because of their religion.
On 4 May, Surya along with his supporters including BJP MLAs Satish Reddy and Ravi Subramaniya, barged into the Covid War Room of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and heckled the officials for appointing Muslim staffs at the war room while reading out the names of 17 employees out of 205. They also used communal slurs against them. Following which all of those Muslims were fired.
Surya raided the war room when he along with his supporters was alleging a scam in bed allocations to the covid patients. However, 16 Muslim staffers were fired just because Surya read out their names asking about criteria for their recruitment. On the other hand, with regard to corruption, the police arrested Nethravathi, Rohith, Venkat Subba Rao, Manjunath and Punith. On Monday, a police officer also clarified that their investigation found nothing against those 16 staffs.
The BBMP decided to reinstate them after the staffers along with manager of recruiting agency Shivu Naik asked Tulasi Maddineni, BBMP’s Commissioner in-charge of the south zone war room, to intervene into the matter.
“A few of the young men met me and said this was their only form of livelihood and they need some work. They pleaded that they needed to make a living. The agency has been directed to take them back, subject to the police investigation which is going on,” Maddineni was quoted by The Print as saying.
She also said that those staff cannot be neccessrily placed in the war room of BBMP south zone. They can be placed anywhere.
However, these suspended employees are saying they are being scapegoated because of their religious identity.
“We are being made scapegoats just because of our names. We are no terrorists. We are not at fault; just doing our jobs. Now we are being forced to prove our innocence for an act we did not even commit. We believe in being truthful and honest in our work. That’s what our families have instilled in us. We will overcome this; we have done nothing wrong,” said one of those staffers.
A Kannada newspaper Vija Karnatak also revealed that Satish Reddy, one of the MLAs who was with Tejasvi during the raid at the war room, has put his agents and threatened officials for allocating beds to his supporters.
Another suspended staff member Zameer Ahmed explained what happened with them after they were singled out by Surya.
“The police came to our house and took us to the station. They took our cell phones and checked all the call records and contacts we had. The police told us that we would be let off and even taken back to work if given a clean chit,” said Ahmed.