Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir police have filed an FIR against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vikram Singh Randhawa for allegedly offering bribes to journalists at a press conference in Leh on 2 May. The alleged bribe was meant “to influence the outcome of the Lok Sabha election”, ahead of polling day on 6 May.
Police had Tuesday filed a non-cognisable report in court after the Leh Press Club approached them with a complaint about the alleged inducements, which was signed by seven journalists present at the press conference.
While BJP MLC Randhawa was accused of personally handing over the envelopes, state BJP president Ravinder Raina was said to have “watched” the whole act.
Confirming the FIR, Leh deputy commissioner Anvy Lavasa told ThePrint that “for now, the FIR has been filed against Mr Vikram Singh Randhawa”. “During the course of the police investigation, if there is evidence against any other individuals, they too shall be named as accused,” Lavasa added.
Randhawa has been booked under Section 171 E (punishment for bribery) and 171 F (punishment for undue influence or personation at an election) of the RPC.
‘Mala fide intentions’
BJP leader Randhawa said the FIR was the result of a ploy hatched by journalists of the Leh Press Club, whom he accused of having “mala fide” intentions.
Speaking to ThePrint Thursday, he reiterated his claim that the envelopes in question contained invitation cards to a 4 May rally in Ladakh where Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was to speak.
“The envelopes contained invitation cards. If it was money we were offering, why didn’t they expose us?” he told ThePrint Thursday.
“They had mala fide intentions all along. They are puppets,” he said.
Leh Press Club president Morup Stanzin, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction with the police action. “No doubt it is the right move,” he said.
On Wednesday, Stanzin had refuted the BJP’s “invitation” claim. “Why would we refuse the invitation?” he had said.
Tsewang Rigzin, one of the journalists present at the press conference, also rejected Randhawa’s claims. “There is no system of inviting journalists for rallies in Leh and Ladakh. The Leh Press Club receives an official invitation to cover the rally and most of the times a call is made to the club president,” Rigzin said, “The BJP leaders have nothing so they are lying…,” he added.
Ladakh accounts for one of J&K’s six Lok Sabha seats
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