Srinagar, May 9 : Jammu and Kashmir Police has filed an FIR against BJP leaders for allegedly trying to bribe journalists last week in border town of Leh to get favourable coverage during Lok Sabha polls.
The FIR was registered following directions of the chief judicial magistrate’s court to police to investigate the matter. Earlier, an inquiry, ordered by Leh Deputy Commissioner and District Election Officer Anvy Lavasa, had found the allegations against BJP leaders to be prima facie true.
“Following directions by the chief judicial magistrate’s court, police has registered an FIR under relevant sections of the law against the accused,” a police official said. A video went viral on social media on Tuesday, in which BJP leaders could be seen handing over envelopes, allegedly containing money, to journalists in Leh. However, the authenticity of the video could not be verified. The Press Club of Leh (PCL) alleged that the envelopes contained money and filed a complaint against BJP leaders for allegedly offering bribe to some members of the club on May 2.
Terming action against the BJP by District Administration led by Deputy Commissioner Leh, ‘appreciable’, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday said that such actions play a vital role in restoring peoples’ faith in the institutions of democracy and fair play. The Press Club of Leh (PCL) last week alleged that BJP leaders, including its state President Ravinder Raina and former MLC Vikram Randhawa, attempted to bribe journalists after a press conference to get favourbale coverage during elections. The allegation attracted severe criticism from all political parties, including National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and CPI(M).
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah had lauded ‘the integrity and honesty of Leh journalists’ and termed it as a shining example for their fellow journalists. “In light of the CCTV footage purported to show BJP leaders attempting to bribe journalists in Leh, I’m re-tweeting my original tweet with the letter of complaint by the Press Club, Leh. Action must follow,” Mr Abdullah, who is the vice-president of National Conference (NC), wrote on micro-blogging site twitter.
Former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti questioned media’s silence over BJP allegedly attempting to bribe journalists. “If a Congress/TMC/BSP/SP leader was caught trying to pay off media with such solid evidence, media would’ve gone hammer & tongs about it. Why the radio silence & no hashtags? Glad to know that some have the guts to refuse. Proud of Avny Lavasa who put them in their place,” Ms Mehbooba, who is president of PDP, wrote on micro-blogging site twitter.
Meanwhile, senior CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami asked ‘if the BJP wanted to promote money, muscle power culture in J&K’.In the police complaint, the Press Club of Leh in Police Station Leh alleged that BJP leaders, including its state President Ravinder Raina and former MLC Vikram Randhawa, ‘tried to bribe media persons on May 2 after a press conference to use their platform to influence the outcome of the election’.
“We didn’t accept the offer and rejected it out rightly and showed our anguish at their attempt,” the complaint said. “The press fraternity of Ladakh strongly condemns this,” the complaint said and asked police to file an FIR against Mr Raina and Mr Randhawa for allegedly violating Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and for trying to bribe media.
However, BJP has denied the allegations. The state unit of BJP on Wednesday said that a committee will be set up to probe the charges against its leaders. “Will file a defamation case against the Press Club Leh for naming me in the bribery complaint as it was politically motivated,” Mr Raina said.He claimed the envelopes given to scribes had invitations and not money. (UNI)