Central Crime Branch (CCB) officers of Bengaluru City Police have arrested the kingpin of the COVID-19 bed booking scam. The accused, said to be an associate of Bommanahalli BJP MLA Satish Reddy will be in police custody till May 31.
Reports quoting CCB said that Babu, 34, a resident of Roopena Agrahara, used to act as a broker in the bed-booking scam and allegedly had contacts with doctors in the COVID war room.
“We will interrogate him on his contacts with doctors and war room staff,” Sandeep Patil, joint commissioner of police (CCB) told Deccan Herald.
Five people – Nethravati, a social activist and Rohit Kumar, her neighbour, Subba Rao, Manjunath and Punith – were earlier arrested in connection with case. The role of Satish Reddy in the scam is yet to be ascertained.
“Babu is also a BJP worker and used to go around the Bommanahalli constituency claiming to be the personal assistant of the MLA. We have collected evidence to prove that he has earned several lakhs by selling blocked beds. He had tested COVID positive and was admitted to the hospital. We waited for his recovery and detained him on Monday,” Patil said.
Babu’s role in the scam in the BBMP hospital was suspected when police examined the CCTV footage of the war room as well as statement of staff. Police said Babu used to frequent the war room using Satish Reddy’s name.
“While Satish Reddy was trying to find beds for people, Babu gained access to the war room claiming to be Reddy’s close aide. We have gathered CCTV footage of his movements in the war room,” a CCB official told DH.
Babu and his aides had also assaulted IAS probationer V Yeshwant when he questioned his presence at the war room on April 30. A case was registered in this regard.
The incident comes as a major embarrassment for the BJP as it was Tejasvi Surya, the ruling party’s MP from Bangalore South, who had raised the stinker first. Recently, Surya accompanied by Satish Reddy, Basavanagadi MLA Ravi Subramanya, and Chickpet MLA Uday Garudhachar had barged into the Bengaluru South COVID-19 war room to ‘reveal’ the scam. There, he had singled out 16 Muslim workers and accused them of keeping aside COVID-19 beds in exchange of money.
The Congress has now asked if Surya will call a presser and explain the scam.
“BJP MLA Satish Reddy’s close associate Babu ARRESTED in Bed Blocking Scam Satish was with Tejasvi Surya during his ‘expose’ but is himself the Scam’s Kingpin! Tejasvi, will you hold a PC & explain the arrest? Were you protecting your people by blaming Muslims?” Srivatsa, the national campaign in-charge of Youth Congress tweeted.