Family driven to despair by BBMP’s corona calls


Non-stop calls from BBMP cautioning them about their health, vilification at the hands of neighbours and the landlady, forced isolation — this is all the part of the trauma that a couple that is originally from Delhi had to face in the city after their relatives tested positive for covid.

The number of calls they received from Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) even points to a probable collusion of the Palike employees with private hospitals to exploit primary contacts of people who test positive for coronavirus. Vishal Panwar and Sukhwinder Singh, residents of Vadderapalya in Mahadevapura zone, told Bangalore Mirror about their ordeal.

According to Sukwinder Singh, two of her relatives got admitted to a private hospital on JC Road on June 30. “One of them was admitted for fever and cough. The other relative was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. We paid Rs 10.50 lakh for both of them,’’ said Singh.

On July 11, when one of the relatives was discharged from the hospital, they started getting these phone calls. “We received seven to eight phone calls enquiring about the health of my family members and advising us to go to a hospital for a medical checkup. They harassed us till August 1,” Singh said.

She said that people claiming to be BBMP employees used to call her family from different mobile numbers. “One of them claimed he was calling from RR Nagar zone. Why should a BBMP employee from RR Nagar zone call people in Mahadevapura zone?” she said.

Her husband Vishal Panwar said he had to take his relatives to hospital – one for coronavirus and other for pneumonia. “My landlady objected to me visiting my relative’s house in the next lane. She called me an illiterate and accused me of putting her family and herself in danger of catching the coronavirus. I am a pharmacist and I had to visit the house in the next lane to bring along one of my relatives who is pregnant,” said Vishal Panwar.

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He said he had to cover his face even just to go out to buy milk. “We hail from New Delhi. We have no relatives in Bengaluru. I have to take care of my family. I had to call my medical officer in the midnight to explain to the landlady that nothing would happen to her family because of my going out to buy milk or other essential commodities,’’ he said.

As the couple was a primary contact, they did get a covid test but despite testing negative they were almost forced to be in quarantine.

He blamed the government for not having a clear policy on giving the reports to the people tested negative for coronavirus. “We were forced to isolate in our home for more than 20 days since we could not have a copy of the coronavirus test result,” he said.

Activists blame the government for phone call harassment to the family. “This episode shows that the system in the government or the testing centres have a lot of loopholes and they could be leaking the phone numbers and other data,’’ said Nandini Singh, a social activist.

Activist Arun Prasad said this episode calls for an inquiry. He said the inquiry could rule out any nexus between BBMP workers and private hospitals.



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Sagar Biswas

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