BJP Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya on Thursday (May 5) revisited the Bengaluru South COVID War Room at around 7 pm, and apologised to the 200-odd people working there. Tejasvi had on Tuesday ‘raided’ the war room and read out the names of 16 Muslim men who worked there, accusing them of being a part of a COVID bed blocking scam. Following this, scores of the 212 people who work in this war room have faced harassment, including sexual harassment, after their names and numbers were leaked on social media platforms.
“I am sorry, it was a mistake on my part. I was given a list and I read it. I know the war room was affected by it,” Tejasvi Surya said, according to sources who were present in the room during the MP’s visit. Claiming that he simply read out the names from a list he was given, Tejasvi said that he had no intention of being communal, and he did not even register that the names of the people he read out were from the same community. “I didn’t see whether it was Hindu or Muslim,” he reportedly said.
However, Tejasvi neither did not tell the war room members where he got such a list from, nor how he verified its credentials before reading it out. In earlier interviews, Tejasvi had told the media that BBMP Joint Commissioner gave him the list. He also did not have to apologise to the 16 men whom he named on Tuesday; the 16 workers — most of them in their 20s and many of them college students according to sources — have been asked not to come to the war room until the police gives them a clean chit, according to Crystal Infosystems, the contractor who staffs this particular war room.
The people working in the war room have been facing constant harassment from strangers over the phone — with some even getting visits to their home address — with people demanding hospital beds, and asking how much money they are taking for giving hospital beds. Several workers have had to disable their phone numbers because of the constant phone calls, according to sources. Addressing this, Tejasvi Surya reportedly said, “Even my number was leaked and I, too, am facing threats. Don’t worry, this will all be over in a week. I am with you. I will teach a lesson to those who leaked your numbers.” He denied that the leak was from his office, promising to get the workers new SIM cards.
“I want you to remember that a lot of good has happened through me,” Tejasvi said, according to sources, “I’m not casteist or communal. I am doing good for the people. I don’t have any bad intentions.” During his last visit to the war room, flanked by three other BJP leaders, Tejasvi had done a live telecast of it. This time, there was no live telecast and those at the war room were told not to shoot videos.
TNM spoke to three people in the war room, and all of them said that what happened to their colleagues was unfortunate and unnecessary. “We work here together, Muslims and Hindus. These are all young boys he has named, how can they be called terrorists? Do you think these boys even know how guns work? This apology was namesake, and they should not have been named by him like that.”