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Bengaluru Covid bed allocation scam: Seven held so far, cops conduct searches in BBMP war rooms

While only two of the arrested have been identified by the police so far, a senior officer said the others would be named later.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bangalore |
Updated: May 6, 2021 8:57:52 am
bangalore covid, bengaluru covid news, bangalore covid beds scam, bangalore hospitals covid beds, indian expressA patient on oxygen at a Bengaluru hospital. (Photo: PTI)

As many as seven people were arrested for their alleged links to the Covid bed allocation scam in Bengaluru on Wednesday. This included four people nabbed by the Central Crime Branch of Karnataka police, including two doctors.

According to Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil, two FIRs filed in the city have been transferred to the CCB. “We have arrested four accused so far. Four others are being questioned. Searches have been conducted in all eight zonal war rooms,” Patil said.

Further, an officer from the investigating team told Indianexpress.com that there were two doctors among those detained for questioning on Wednesday. “It appears to us that some loopholes in the software used for bed blocking were exploited by those linked to the process. We have interrogated several people associated with different zonal war rooms in Bengaluru, of which two are doctors,” the police officer said.

Earlier on Tuesday, DCP (South) Harish Pandey had confirmed the arrest of Nethravathy (40), a social worker, and Rohith Kumar (22), her nephew in the alleged bed-booking scam. The duo was arrested after a sting operation was conducted by the police.

“Our team approached them for beds posing as relatives of a COVID-19 patient. We then realised that the duo, from Begur, would charge between Rs 20,000 and Rs 40,000 after understanding the financial status of the person seeking a bed,” Pandey had said.

The other accused, have been identified by CCB sleuths as Dr Rehan, who was in charge of the BBMP South Covid-19 War Room, Dr Suresh, who was in charge of the Bommanahalli war room and his staffer Shashi Kumar.

“Dr Rehan is in our custody as we interrogate him to ascertain the possibility of more people involved in the racket. Meanwhile, Dr Suresh tested positive for COVID-19 and hence we are yet to question him. These doctors are suspected to have taken the help of Shashi Kumar to block and unblock beds using BU (Bengaluru Urban Covid-19 patient identification) ID numbers,” a senior police official said.

Three arrested for allegedly extorting Rs 1.2 lakh for a hospital bed

Meanwhile, three others were arrested by officers of the Central Division of Bengaluru City Police for their alleged involvement in black marketing of hospital beds.

Confirming the same, DCP (Central) M N Anuchet identified the accused as Venkata Subbarao, Manjunath and Punith, based on a case registered at Sadashivanagar police station on Wednesday. “The victim was made to pay Rs 1.2 lakh for getting a bed for his father at M S Ramaiah Hospital. While Rs 50,000 was transferred via Google Pay, another Rs 70,000 was taken by the accused in cash after a bed was allocated in the hospital,” he said.

Meanwhile, another officer explained that the patient was first admitted to a private hospital in Nelamangala after being diagnosed with Covid-19. As higher medical treatment was required, the patient was taken to People Tree Hospitals in Yeshwantpur, only to realise no ICU beds were available then. “Venkata Subbarao and Manjunath, who worked at People Tree, connived with Punith who works as the Arogya Mitra in MS Ramaiah Hospital. They demanded and extorted Rs 1.2 lakh from the complainant. However, the patient succumbed to Covid-19 a few hours later,” the officer said.

The police added that the victim’s brother had dialled 112 helpline number to report the incident, which led to the case being filed at Sadashivanagar police station. Further investigation is underway.

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