BENGALURU, Karnataka — When confronted about the difficulties his constituents were facing in getting vaccinated, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and state lawmaker from CV Raman Nagar in Bengaluru, Karnataka, S Raghu, told India Ahead, “Let them make allegations, let them suffer, die and jump,” even as his close aides heckled and pushed this reporter.
On Tuesday, 1 June, India Ahead had questioned Raghu about why the vaccination centre was shifted from a Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in CV Raman Nagar, Bengaluru, to his private marriage hall in Thippasandra, a few kilometres from the PHC, in effect making people who had waited for hours to get vaccinated, wait even longer, and raising questions about the diversion of vaccines.
The vaccination drive at the Bhuvaneshwari Nagar Public Healthcare Centre, was scheduled to start on 31 May, but it was cancelled on Raghu’s orders, local residents alleged. On 1 May, they told India Ahead that vaccines were diverted to the MLA’s marriage hall, Sree Shakthi Ganapathi Kalyan Mantapa, where a banner claimed that he was conducting a free vaccination drive.
Around 300 persons who had gathered at the PHC were given tokens on the morning of May 31, but when they returned to get their jab, they were told to take a second token at the marriage hall and wait for their turn, which was later that evening.
A video from the PHC in CV Raman Nagar, from 31 May, shows the PHC doctor being confronted by residents, who ask him why people who had been waiting from the early hours of the morning were being harassed. The doctor is heard saying, “I’m trying to balance everything. I didn’t know that things would go south. I have pressure from the MLA that I have to conduct the drive at the marriage hall.”
In the video, Abhilash Reddy, an activist linked to the Congress Party, is heard asking the doctor if he would go to any private place to get vaccinated.
In a viral video, Kavita, a local resident, said that she had arrived at the PHC at four in the morning and waited in line for three hours to get her token to get vaccinated on 31 May. She was then told that the vaccination centre had been shifted to the marriage hall, where she would have to get a new token.
“They said no vaccination will take place at the PHC. They even asked me to take a separate token,” Kavita said in a conversation on 1 June.
On Tuesday afternoon, when this reporter asked MLA Raghu about why the location for vaccination was changed from the PHC to the wedding hall, and questioned him about the anger expressed by his constituents, the state lawmaker said, “Let them make allegations, let them suffer, die and jump around. I’m not bothered.”
When questioned again, the MLA’s close aides pushed this journalist and video journalist Satish Kumar Mohan, and told him to put the camera down.
BJP MLA S Raghu said those who are making allegations against him can "suffer and die". I just asked him for a reaction and this is how his people pounded on us and tried to heckle us. .@BJP4Karnataka so much for clearing the air on an issue? pic.twitter.com/hTtXY2AGNC
— Suraj Suresh (@Suraj_Suresh16) June 1, 2021