The MLA, Sathish Reddy, incidentally had accompanied BJP MP Tejasvi Surya on a ‘raid’ of a Covid-19 war room in Bengaluru South, tasked with allotting beds, on May 4, which had led to police launching a probe into the matter.
The arrest of the three — M Babu, 34, with links to Reddy’s aide; Varun S, 20, who was employed in the Bengaluru South war room; and Yashwanth Kumar, 21 — takes the total number of people held in the case to 11. Babu is considered a key suspect in the racket, that was more the result of a few people seeing an opportunity to make quick money rather than a coordinated scam.
Reddy, the BJP MLA from Bommanahalli (which is part of the Bengaluru South parliamentary seat), has denied links to the racket, adding that he had only tried to get beds for his constituents.
Babu is alleged to have used links to doctors and telephone operators in the Bengaluru South war room to get beds blocked, which were then allotted for a price to patients by his alleged “agents” Nethravati and Rohit Kumar. Police had not been able to arrest Babu along with Nethravati and Kumar earlier this month as he was down with Covid at the time.
Employed with the war room, Varun allegedly shared numbers of patients with Yashwanth, who in turn contacted their relatives to strike bargains for rooms. An official said they demanded between Rs 20,000 and Rs 1 lakh for beds that were meant to be free. Police sources said their probe found that “a lot of outsiders were allowed unhindered access to the war room”.
Earlier this month, the IAS officers’ association in Karnataka had written to the Bengaluru Police Commissioner seeking action against supporters of MLA Reddy for allegedly manhandling a fellow officer over bed allotments.
The ‘raid’ by Surya had run into a controversy after he had selectively read out names of 16 staffers, all Muslims, among the 205 employees in the war room.