The Leh Police on Wednesday filed a First Information Report against two Bharatiya Janata Party leaders accused of trying to bribe journalists, reported the Greater Kashmir. The action came after the chief judicial magistrate ordered the police to investigate the matter.
“An FIR has been lodged against the BJP leaders on court’s directives and investigations have been taken up,” an unidentified police official told Greater Kashmir. They have been booked under charges of bribery and undue influence in elections – offences that are punishable with up to one year of imprisonment, according to NDTV.
In its complaint, the Leh Press Club had said that BJP leaders – Jammu and Kashmir unit President Ravinder Raina and legislator Vikram Randhawa – had tried to bribe journalists on May 2 at Hotel Singge Palace in Leh. Rigzin Spalbar, the Congress candidate from Ladakh Parliamentary constituency, had also filed an application in the court.
“After the press conference was over, BJP leaders, including state president Ravinder Raina and member of legislative council Vikram Randhawa, tried to bribe the reporters by offering money in envelopes in an attempt to use our platform to influence the outcome of elections,” the press club said in complaint. “We did not accept the offer and we were anguished at such an attempt.”
Video footage that emerged on Tuesday purportedly showed some BJP leaders handing over envelopes to journalists at the hotel ahead of the elections to the Ladakh parliamentary seat. The footage purportedly showed a person resembling Raina speaking to journalists while his colleague hands over the envelopes to the reporters. A reporter is seen opening the envelope and returning it to a BJP leader, who does not take it back. The woman then drops it on the table next to him.
An inquiry, ordered by Leh District Election Officer and Deputy Commissioner Avny Lavasa, has found prima facie merit in the charges.
The BJP has denied the allegations, and said it will sue the journalists for defamation. Raina said that the envelopes had invitations and not money. Raina said that he will file an application in Jammu and Kashmir High Court to seek narco-test on the journalists and BJP leaders. “If anybody from the party is found involved, he will be dealt severely,” he told Greater Kashmir.
The BJP had won the Ladakh seat in the 2014 General Elections by defeating the Congress candidate by just 36 votes. However, legislator Thupstan Chhewang quit the saffron party in November.