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Bengaluru Covid bed allocation scam: Four arrested, in police custody for 14 days

Meanwhile, with several employees working in war rooms that oversee the operations of the Central Hospital Bed Management System (CHBMS) of the BBMP choosing not to turn up for work on Friday, patients and caretakers experienced difficulties in finding a bed.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
Updated: May 7, 2021 10:27:58 pm
Bengaluru, Covid-19Medics check on COVID-19 patients at a hospital, amid a growing concern over shortage in supply of medical oxygen. (Photo: PTI)

The Central Crime Branch of Karnataka Police — probing two different cases transferred to it on the orders of City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant — Friday confirmed that it has obtained police custody of four accused with alleged links to the “Covid bed allocation scam” to further interrogate and ascertain more information on how the crime was carried out.

According to Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil, the police have identified a person believed to be the prime suspect of the crime. “During the interrogation of the four accused who have been arrested so far — namely Rohit Kumar, Nethravathy, Rihan, and Shashi Kumar — we have identified one main suspect. A total of 18 persons were questioned today with regard to the bed allotment scam, including doctors in war rooms, hospital staff, and staff in-charge of the ambulance app,” he confirmed.

Patil added that the accused who have arrested so far will remain in police custody for the next 14 days. “The process of scanning technical data collected from war rooms will continue. All bed allotments made in the last month are being checked for any irregularity,” he clarified.

Further, CCB sleuths in the city said that CCTV footages of all war rooms were also being checked by separate teams formed as part of the investigation. “While all in-charge doctors across eight zonal war rooms are being questioned, identification of unauthorised persons present in the war rooms and reasons for it are also being sought and examined,” a senior officer added.

Employee attrition, technical glitches, police probe affect bed allocation

Meanwhile, with several employees working in war rooms that oversee the operations of the Central Hospital Bed Management System (CHBMS) of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) choosing not to turn up for work on Friday, patients and caretakers experienced difficulties in finding a bed.

Vinay R, a resident of the city, who was looking for an ICU bed for his critically-ill mother was among many who faced a harrowing time on Friday. “I have made at least a hundred calls in total during this time of distress to find a bed for my mother, whose saturation levels were dropping every minute. While I approached volunteers who helped my other relatives find beds last week, they just forwarded me a list of phone numbers of ministers and asked me to seek help from them. The bed availability portal and all war room calls put me on hold for long intervals. After six hours, a volunteer arranged for oxygen at home after which we got a bed allotted,” he told Indianexpress.com.

The 22-year-old engineering student added, “Let’s please find the guilty behind such scams in a way that we don’t lose others’ lives.”

Meanwhile, a senior BBMP official said 25-40 per cent of workers at call centres in war rooms did not turn up for work on Friday. “Many complained of being abused by callers continuously on the war room phones and on their personal mobile numbers and cited abuse as reasons for quitting the job. For those who have chosen to stay, we have arranged counselling as we hope to hire more employees on contract to bridge the gap in the coming days,” the official said.

Earlier on Wednesday and Thursday as well, technical glitches in the system were left unattended for hours in the BBMP’s CHBMS.

“The engineers were away from their systems as they were being questioned for hours by the police. They had resumed work as soon as they were back,” a senior BBMP official said.

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