On Tuesday, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya and BJP MLAs exposed the illegal bed-allotment nexus between civic officials and private agents. The BJP leaders had alleged that some officials in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had joined hands with the touts to book hospital beds in the name of people under home isolation while selling these beds to other patients in need at an exorbitant price.
Addressing a press conference, Surya had alleged that the war room personnel had been running a racket of false blocking the beds and creating artificial shortage despite having enough beds in the Bengaluru city. The BJP MP had alleged that the officials were allotting those beds to the people in exchange for money. He added that there was a nexus between BBMP officials, Aarogya Mitra hospitals and private agents who were indulging in the said crime.
IMPORTANT Addressing issues of irregularities and anomalies in BBMP bed booking for covid patients in Bengaluru along with Bommanahalli MLA Shri. Satish Reddy, Basavanagudi MLA Shri. Ravi Subramanya and Chickpet MLA Shri. Uday Garudachar. https://t.co/mzjjiQq7AP— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) May 4, 2021
Further, Surya had questioned the hiring process of 17 individuals in the Covid-19 war room and had questioned the agency that they belonged to about their qualifications. Some of the names he enquired about while confronting BBMP officials are Mansoor Ali, Tahir Ali Khan, Sadiq Pasha, Md Zayed, Alsai Saheer, Umer Khan, Salman Urif, Zameer Pasha, Zabiullah Khan, Sayed Hasnain, Sayed Shahid, Sayeed Shahbaz, Md Yunus, Syed Mohin and Syed Mukesh. The names of the 17 workers were presented to him by the BBMP officials, who had suspected them of carrying irregularities inside the BBMP war room during the allocation of beds to Covid-19 patients.
Following the massive allegations, the Bengaluru police had arrested one Congress party supporter named Nethravathy and her nephew for their involvement in the illegal allotment of beds to Covid-19 patients in Bengaluru in exchange for money. The police had suspected that the accused had contacts with the BBMP war room staff.
Congress, left-wing media outlets put out misinformation against BJP MP Tejasvi Surya
As the Congress party faced massive embarrassment in the state after one of its party supporters was arrested by the Bengaluru police in connection with the BBMP-bed scam, the grand-old party resorted to peddling misinformation on social media by posting morphed images to allege that the accused is actually linked with the BJP. They tried to claim that the accused woman Nethravathy is linked with Tejasvi Surya, who, in fact, was the first person to expose the nexus between private agents and BBMP officials in the allocation of beds to Covid-19 patients in the city.
The Congress party also alleged that Tejsavi Surya was communalising the matter by taking Muslim names, and demanded action against him and other BJP leaders who had accompanied him to the war room.
Augmenting the lies peddled by the Congress party, a few far-left media outlets began to carry out hit-jobs against the young MP by claiming that Tejasvi Surya had unnecessarily communalised the issue by taking out the names of 17 Muslim employees who were working at the BBMP war room in Bengaluru.
The News Minute, a news website that claims to report facts, gave a communal twist to the entire incident by not only sidestepping on the issue of massive irregularities in the process but also perhaps to hide the Congress links to the bed-allocation scam that was unearthed by the BJP MP. Following that, a series of media reports emerged that Tejasvi Surya had deliberately uttered the names of the employees working in the BBMP war room as they had belonged to the Muslim community.
Here is a report by TNM accusing him of carrying ‘communal’ politics, instead of reporting on facts pertaining to the unearthing of BBMP scam.
Amidst all these development, the Bengaluru South MP had also clarified that the list consisting of the names of the 17 Muslim workers were not prepared by him, but was presented to him by the BBMP officials. Most importantly, the BBMP officials had already acted on some of the workers, incidentally all belonging to the Muslim community, for the irregularities in the bed allocation.
However, the media groups deliberately ignored the underlying issue, i.e., the irregularities within the BBMP regarding the illegal allocations of bed in exchange for money, rather in a classic attempt of targeting the whistle-blower, pounced on the BJP MP only because he had read the names of a few individuals who were suspended for their alleged involvement in the BBMP bed scam, and incidentally belonged to the same community.
TNM peddles misinformation, other media house latches onto it
Continuing its attack on Tejasvi Surya, the far-left news website ‘The News Minute’ published another report on Friday claiming that Tejasvi Surya had revisited the BBMP war room to ‘apologise’ to the 200-odd people working there. In the first report it had published, TNM had claimed that Tejasvi had allegedly “read out the names of 16 Muslim men who worked there, accusing them of being a part of a Covid-19 bed-blocking scam and due to this, scores of the 212 people who work in this war room have faced harassment, including sexual harassment”.
In its report, TNM claimed that the names and numbers of the employees working in the BBMP war room had allegedly got leaked, leading to sexual harassment against them. Incidentally, TNM blamed Tejasvi Surya for the leaks even though it was the Congress party and its media ecosystem who leaked the list of all the 200-odd employees working in the BBMP war room after the Tuesday incident to prove that it was not just Muslims who were working at the war room.
Once again @Tejasvi_Surya proved that you are nothing more than a Gutter Snipe, out of 206 BBMP Call Center employee you only read 16 Muslim names, the intent was to make it Communal just like always….. Shameless B……! #BBMPBedScam #COVIDEmergency2021 pic.twitter.com/Mv8iDI2kpe— Kavitha Reddy #WeThe49Percent (@KavithaReddy16) May 5, 2021
#BJP MP #TejasviSurya attempted to communalize the #BBMPBedScam issue by insinuating that Muslims are behind this scam. He purposely read out the names of 16 Muslim telecallers out of the 206 hired by #BBMP.— Mansoor Khan 🇮🇳 (@MansoorKhanINC) May 5, 2021
Communal politics to cover up his govt’s murders. #bbmpscam pic.twitter.com/fwG0OUFQ0T
The names and numbers leaked by the Congress IT cell to target the BJP leader may have been accessed by some elements, who allegedly harassed some 200-odd people working at the BBMP war room. However, TNM reported that it was Tejasvi Surya who leaked the data leading to harassment.
Further, TNM published purported statements put out by Tejasvi Surya at the BBMP war room on Thursday, claiming that he had ‘apologised’ for leaks. Interestingly, the claims against Tejasvi Surya made by the TNM in their report is based on imaginary sources. There are neither concrete facts nor evidence to claim that Tejasvi had apologised to the employees for inspecting the BBMP war room.
Here is the snapshot of the TNM’s first report that claims that Tejasvi had apologised for storming into the BBMP room:
Further, in its report, TNM claimed the people working in the war room faced constant harassment from strangers over the phone, with some even getting visits to their home address to demand hospital beds while confronting them about irregularities. “Several workers have had to disable their phone numbers because of the constant phone calls,” the TNM report claimed yet again by attributing to the so-called ‘sources’. However, TNM has not provided any evidence to back these claims.
Tejasvi Surya said he will teach a lesson to people who leaked numbers, says TNM
The report also quoted Tejasvi Surya as saying, “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. I want you to remember that a lot of good has happened through me.”
“I’m not casteist or communal. I am doing good for the people. I don’t have any bad intentions,” TNM quoted Tejasvi Surya as saying in its report citing the same sources yet again. But there is no clarity on who these ‘sources’ are.
From the looks of it, TNM, in their eagerness to target Tejasvi Surya, have invented quotes and imaginary sources to claim that Tejasvi Surya had apologised for his actions that led to unearthing a major scam in the city. However, their so-called ‘investigative’ report was soon picked up by various other media outlets to propagate misinformation regarding the entire incident.
Based on the reports published by The News Minute, several other media portals also published their reports claiming that Tejasvi Surya had apologised for his so-called communal actions inside the BBMP war room on Tuesday.
Another far-left website – Scroll, which has a history of peddling misinformation on social media, went a step ahead to declare that BJP MP Tejasvi Surya apologised to Covid war room staff for his alleged ‘communal’ remarks.
Another news website News18 added that BJP MP Tejasvi Surya apologises to Muslim BBMP staffers accusing them of corruption. However, in the entire report, they have failed to put out facts or evidence to back their claims.
As TNM published its ‘investigative’ report against Tejasvi Surya, the usual suspects in the social media platforms, joined by the Congress party and left-wing trolls, launched yet another round of attack against the BJYM President.
Tejasvi Surya rejects claims put out by TNM, calls it ‘fake news’
However, as soon as the news went viral, the office of Tejasvi Surya rejected the claims made by the TNM and other news portals regarding his so-called ‘apology’ for carrying out raids on the BBMP war room to expose the illegal bed allocation in exchange for money. Responding swiftly, the office of Tejasvi Surya termed the news reports published by TNM and as well as News18 as fake news.
Several netizens demanded TNM and other media outlets to put out facts about the case after Tejasvi Surya’s office clarified that they had not issued any apology for the incident as claimed by the media outlets.
TNM quietly deletes statements attributed to Tejasvi Surya, rephrases his quotes
Hours later, the TNM, perhaps realising their mistake of inventing quotes, silently altered their original report. The edited report, though retained the same headline, however, had massive changes. The TNM quietly removed some of the quotes they had attributed to Tejasvi Surya that originally insinuated that he had indeed apologised for ‘communalising’ the entire incident.
In the edited report, TNM rephrased some of the earlier invented quotes that were published by them earlier to depict that Tejasvi Surya had not only apologised for his actions but also sought vengeance for leaking his personal details.
Here are some of the quotes that were paraphrased by TNM after office of Tejasvi Surya challenged them:
The shocking unethical journalism of TNM, however, does not end there. The TNM that was aggressively pushing theories by inventing quotes saying Tejasvi Surya had regretted his alleged ‘communal’ act, however, retracted some of the quotes from its initial reports.
Some of the quotes that were retracted from the initial report are:
“I didn’t see whether the list was Hindu or Muslim”
“I’m not casteist or communal”.
The two above statements, allegedly made by Tejasvi Surya, were featured in TNM’s original report. For a reader, the above statements strike as if Tejasvi Surya had accepted that he had fuelled a ‘communal’ angle to the entire case and was apologising for the same. However, this is not true.
It seems that TNM invented some sources and quotes to depict Tejasvi Surya as ‘guilty’ in the entire incident. However, failing to back it up with concrete evidence, TNM has silently deleted the statements that were attributed to him in their earlier report.
After caught propagating lies, TNM has now given a clarification for the same, claiming that TNM had only accessed the recording of Tejasvi Surya’s interaction at the war room after they had published their first story. Also, TNM confesses that they had published their story on quotes from people who work in the war room.
Further, TNM also claimed that they have now edited the story to put out the exact words spoken by the MP. After carrying out a hitjob against Tejasvi Surya, The News Minute has now released a statement saying, “they had inadvertently added on the basis of sources, that said Tejasvi Surya insisted he wasn’t casteist or communal and they are removing as it was not found in the audio clip accessed by us”.
So, to put it simply, TNM initially published a report targeting Tejasvi Surya without any substantial evidence to back their claims. However, they based the entire narrative on imaginary sources and fake quotes attributing to him. When confronted, TNM has now silently deleted most of the references and rephrased the quotes that did the damage in the first place.
Social media users points discrepancy, TNM Editor admits they erred
As social media users pointed out the massive discrepancies in their report, Dhanya Rajendran, the Editor-in-Chief of TNM, put out a series of clarification to limit the damage. Admitting that they had erred in reporting facts, Dhanya Rajendran said that there was an issue when they had quoted saying Tejasvi Surya said “he isn’t ‘communal or casteist” as such statements were not in the audio they had accessed.
“Maybe it was there in a part of the speech we missed. However, if you didn’t say that, sorry for attributing it,” she said.
There is only one issue with the TNM story. We said Tejasvi Surya said he isn’t ‘communal or casteist’. In the 15 min audio, it is not there. Maybe it was there in a part of the speech we missed. However, if you didn’t say that, sorry for attributing it.— Dhanya Rajendran (@dhanyarajendran) May 7, 2021
Dhanya Rajendran has also now shared a purported audio conversation, allegedly being attributed to Tejasvi Surya. Sharing audio of an obscure news network called India News Ahead, Dhanya Rajendran continued to defend her report saying that Tejasvi Surya had apologised to the BBMP war room staff for exposing the irregularities in the system.
Did Tejasvi Surya ‘apologise’ as claimed by TNM?
As we looked into the purported audio of Tejasvi Surya shared by Dhanya Rajendran, we could not find any apology issued by Tejasvi Surya or his team to the alleged workers of the BBMP war pertaining to his actions that led to the expose of a massive bed scam in the state and the subsequent arrests, suspensions of the accused in the case.
Here is the audio that has been shared by Dhanya Rajendran:
In the above audio, a person, who is being claimed by TNM as Tejasvi Surya, is heard clarifying on the alleged leaks of names of employees working in the BBMP war room and addressing the issues of their safety. OpIndia could not independently verify whether the audio is authentic or not. We could also not figure out whether the person in the audio is Tejasvi Surya or not as we could not contact him or his team.
“On behalf of you, we will write to Facebook regarding the leaks. As it has already been leaked, not just on Facebook, it is technically impractical to delete it,” the person in the audio, who according to Dhanya is Tejasvi Surya, can be heard saying.
Further, in the audio, the person can be heard saying, “People and patients from all communities, caste work and seek service here (BBMP war room). After the incident, people are falsely claiming that the entire incident was a conspiracy against Muslims. I want to remind you that I was given a list of employees by officials, whose name I read it out here. I had inquired about the selection process of these candidates. It is not my fault. I only request you to consider that Covid-19 does not discriminate on religion and urge you to work unitedly”.
No instance of apologising by person in the audio
In the entire audio shared by Dhanya Rajendran as a source to the accusations made against Tejasvi Surya, there is no instance of that person in the audio is apologising for his actions. Rather, he categorically says it is not his fault if BBMP officials give him a list that had only Muslim names. The tone and tenor of the person, who according to TNM is Tejasvi Surya, also suggests that the visit was more of a courtesy visit to address the grievances of the Covid war room staff and not to apologise for his earlier actions.
If at all the audio is authentic, it only goes on to show that Tejasvi Surya has displayed a statesmanship by returning to Covid-19 war room to address the grievances of the workers, who are being let down by some of the other staff who have now been caught for selling beds in exchange for money.
Analysing all the facts presented above, one can easily realise that TNM invented quotes and claimed that they had accessed some audio to claim that Tejasvi Surya had apologised for his actions on Tuesday. However, after realising their mistake, TNM seems to have quietly altered their report that had initially insinuated that Tejasvi Surya had allegedly regretted making statements that had ‘communal’ overtones.
Finally, by sharing a purported audio file to defend their report against Tejasvi Surya, Dhanya Rajendran has scored a self-goal as the evidence not only vindicates Tejasvi Surya’s stand (if at all one considers that the purported audio file is authentic) but also categorically proves that Tejasvi Surya has not issued any apology for his actions that resulted in the unearthing of a massive scam.
It is also not sure that whether TNM is relying on any other authentic audio/video of the interaction between Tejasvi Surya and BBMP war room staff to make such wild claims. Till now, they have not released any audio or substantial proof to back their claim.
Amusingly, as netizens have begun to ask questions to TNM and its Editor-in-Chief Dhanya Rajendran over their recent hit job, the journalist has now washed her hands off by claiming that she will not be talking about this anymore as she has ‘other work to do’.
Tejasvi told the war room that his number too was leaked, even his parents are being abused. All sides need to stop this. Focus on the pandemic. We will update copy with all the quotes. After that, no more tweets from me on this. I got other work to do.— Dhanya Rajendran (@dhanyarajendran) May 7, 2021
One can only hope that TNM gives a detailed clarification on why they had to invent quotes to depict BJP MP Tejasvi Surya as a ‘guilty’ in the entire incident at a time when he has done a massive help to the society by unearthing a massive bed scam in the city that is fighting a deadly pandemic. Instead of reporting on the scam, TNM has indulged in unethical journalism to attack the whistle-blower to deny him his credit by giving a ‘communal’ spin to the entire incident.
We contacted The News Minute team regarding the large discrepancies in their reports. However, they have not responded to us till now. We will update the report with their response when it arrives.