Srinagar: The Leh police have registered an FIR in connection with the BJP’s allegedly trying to bribe local reporters for favourable coverage during the Lok Sabha elections.
Leh’s Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) had on Wednesday while acting on an application filed by the Press Club Leh permitted the police to investigate the matter under law. The order said, “The instant application is allowed and Station House Officer, Police Station, Leh is permitted to investigate the matter under law.”
Congress candidate for Ladakh Lok Sabha seat Rigzin Spalbar had also moved the court with a complaint that the BJP has violated the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).
Subsequently, the police registered an FIR at the concerned police station and took up investigation into the matter, the official sources said.
According to a complaint lodged with the police by the Press Club Leh, the BJP leaders including its J&K state president Ravinder Raina and its in-charge for Ladakh constituency Vikram Randhawa, “tried to bribe media persons” on May 2 after a press conference held in Ladakh’s main town “to use their platform to influence the outcome of the election”.
The polling in Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency was held in the fifth phase of the general elections on May 5, three days after the incident.
The BJP has denied the charge and threatened to sue the journalists for defamation. It claimed that the envelopes contained the invitations to media persons to cover the party rally which was to be addressed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu in Leh on May 4. At the same time, the BJP has set up an internal party inquiry committee to probe the allegation.
Earlier this week, a video emerged showing Randhawa handing out envelopes to journalists in presence of his party’s State unit head. The video is actually CCTV footage from Hotel Sangaylay in Leh, the venue for the BJP leaders’ press conference. It shows a woman leaving an envelope on the table. She later said that when she asked Randhawa about the Rs 500 notes being in the envelope he told her that it was a token of love. She and other journalists have also said that when they objected to it, the BJP leader told them that they do this in Jammu too, so what was the problem.
The BJP has claimed that the CCTV footage of the incident does not show journalists being bribed by its leaders.
“The CCTV grab being circulated on the social media is of the invitation envelopes being given to reporters for the coverage of Defence Minister’s visit to Leh. This is being shown as if money is being given to them,” Randhawa said at a press conference in winter capital Jammu on Wednesday....