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‘Bribery’ case: Leh police begin probe against BJP leaders

An FIR was registered against BJP leaders including party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit president Ravinder Raina and MLC Vikram Randhawa in connection with allegations of offering bribes to some journalists in Leh.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: May 10, 2019 12:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jammu
Ravinder Rana is the BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit president.
Ravinder Rana is the BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit president. (Nitin Kanotra / HT File )
         

Leh police on Thursday began investigation against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit president Ravinder Raina and MLC Vikram Randhawa, after registering FIR in connection with allegations that some journalists were offered bribes after a BJP press conference to influence the parliamentary polls.

The FIR was registered on Wednesday under sections 171E (punishment for bribery) and 171F (punishment for undue influence or personation at an election) of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) after Leh chief judicial magistrate Tsewang Phuntsog directed the police to launch a probe into the matter, a police officer said.

While disposing of an application filed by the police, the CJM said, “Perusal and consideration of the material on record reveals prima facie commission of non-cognizable offences, punishable under Section 171E and 171F of the RPC, warranting investigation”.

“Accordingly, the instant application is allowed and SHO Police Station Leh is permitted to investigate into the matter under law,” he stated in his order.

Earlier, an inquiry, ordered by Leh deputy commissioner and district election officer Anvy Lavasa, had found the allegations to be prima facie true.

“The inquiry concluded that the allegations of attempt to bribe journalists at Leh in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh are prima facie correct. We have asked police to register a report under relevant provisions of the law. Since it is a non-cognizable offence, they can file an FIR after a court directive,” Lavasa had said on Sunday.

Lavasa had ordered the inquiry on May 3 after the Leh press club lodged a complaint that four of its members were offered bribes soon after a press conference by state BJP chief Ravinder Raina on May 2. The club accused the BJP of violating the model code of conduct and sought action against party leaders.

Leh press club president Morup Stanzin said Randhawa handed over envelopes to four journalists in the presence of Raina.

“Our members got suspicious and opened it. There were some Rs 500 notes in the envelopes. When the press club members tried to return it, the BJP leader refused to take it. So they put those envelopes on table,” Stanzin said.

However, Randhawa termed the allegations as baseless and said the BJP would file a defamation case against Leh journalists if they did not offer a public apology.

Raina said he was ready to undergo brain mapping and lie detector test.

“The BJP stands for transparency and accountability. If needed by the court, EC and the administration, I am ready to undergo brain mapping and lie detector test. If anyone (from the BJP) is found guilty, he will be punished under the law,” Raina said on Thursday.

“We respect the court and are ready to face the probe. The BJP has also constituted an internal inquiry panel, comprising retired judges, senior advocates and journalists,” he added.

The Leh police have called Stanzin to record his statement on Friday.

First Published: May 10, 2019 12:19 IST

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