Bengaluru: 3 arrested for extorting Rs 1.2 lakh for ICU bed; patient succumbs to Covid-19

Bengaluru police have arrested three people for allegedly extorting Rs 1.2 lakh from the relatives of a Covid-19 patient.

According to the police, the accused — identified as Venkata Subba Rao, Manjunath, and Punith — allegedly demanded money from the patient’s relatives to get an ICU bed in a reputed hospital.

Police further said that one Laxmidevamma was diagnosed with Covid-19 and admitted to a private hospital in Nelamangala on the city outskirts. However, the patient’s health worsened, and she was therefore brought to the People Tree hospital. However, no ICU beds were available.

Rao and Manjunath allegedly plotted with Punith, who worked at the MS Ramaiah Hospital as an Aarogya Mitra (health worker). Aarogya Mitras are the primary contact for patients at every hospital. They coordinate with the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust, which operated under the aegis of the state government’s Department of Health and Family Welfare.

Police said that the accused demanded Rs 1.2 lakh from Lakshmisha, the patient’s son, for an ICU bed in the MS Ramaiah hospital.

Lakshmisha claimed that he paid Rs 50,000 via Google Pay and Rs 70,000 in cash, after which the ICU bed was allotted in the MS Ramaiah hospital. However, Lakshmidevamma succumbed to the infection hours later.

The incident was brought to light by Lakshmisha’s brother Chethan, who contacted Dial 112 and informed the Sadashivnagar Police Station. Based on the complaint, the trio was arrested. Further investigation is underway.

The arrests come on the day South Bengaluru MP Tejasvi Surya allegedly unearthed irregularities in the allotment of beds to Covid-19 patients. Surya asserted that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike war room officials are running a racket.