As audios of ‘bribe’ to councillors go viral, Chandigarh mayor tells SSP to probe media sources
The mayor wants that the source of circulation of the recordings and their authenticity “be brought into public domain”punjab Updated: Dec 14, 2017 09:57 IST
Stung by media reports of viral audio recordings of three councillors purportedly seeking monetary favours, the mayor of Chandigarh has chosen to shoot the messenger instead.
As two of the councillors are from her party BJP and one independent, mayor Asha Kumari Jaswal on Wednesday wrote to the senior superintendent of police (SSP), Nilambari Vijay Jagadale, that they had “brought into my knowledge that the recordings are fake”, so the reporters be “associated in inquiry”.
- On November 26, a recording of a conversation reportedly between BJP councillor Bharat Kumar, who is chairman of the MC sanitation committee, and a representative of Lion Company, which was given mechanised-sweeping contract, went viral. In it, the councillor is allegedly asking for monetary favours every month. In it, the mayor said, a forensic test would be conducted to check the clip. That has not happened.
- On December 5, audio clip purportedly of independent councillor Dalip Sharma surfaced, wherein he is allegedly seeking money from a woman for getting her work done. The woman alleged in a complaint to the deputy commissioner, too, that the councillor took Rs 12,000 from her to provide a water connection.
- On December 11, audio of phonecall purportedly between a door-to-door waste collector and a contractor surfaced in which Rs 2,000 per rehri is being sought in the name of a BJP councillor, Vinod Aggarwal . The waste collector claims one Pappu has asked him to pay Rs 2,000 per month. He seeks to know what it was all about. To this, the contractor replies, “A tender (contract) for the entire ward (26) has been taken and every collector with a rehri has to pay Rs 2,000 each as per local councillor Aggarwal.”
The mayor wants that the source of circulation of the recordings and their authenticity “be brought into public domain”. Her chief concern is that “appropriate action” be taken against “those who lowered the image of the MC” through the recordings.
However, the Congress wondered why she did not send the recordings for forensic tests as “the matter involves a grave issue”, according to councillor Davinder Babla. The mayor had earlier promised that.
Of the three recordings, the first one that went viral on social media was on November 26, purportedly between BJP councillor Bharat Kumar, who is chairman of the municipal corporation’s sanitation committee, and a representative of Lion Company, which was given contract for mechanised sweeping . In it, the councillor is allegedly asking for monetary favours every month. The mayor had said the audio would be sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), but nothing has been done. Wednesday’s letter, instead, turns the issue around.
“It is sad that the mayor is trying to put restrains on the media,” said Chandigarh Congress chief and former mayor Pardeep Chhabra, “We will not allow this happen.” Babla said, “She is challenging the media. Instead of writing to the SSP, the mayor should have sent all the audio clips to the CFSL to know the truth.”
Press club condemns
Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Press Club condemned the mayor’s action. In a statement, club secretary general Barinder Singh Rawat said, “We condemn the pressure tactics like summoning to journalists... The journalists are only reporting what is happening in society, therefore they should not be harassed.”
“Revealing the identity of the source is against the ethics of the profession, and the mayor and UT police should know this. If the administration and police continue to put pressure on journalists, then the press club will launch an agitation,” the statement read.
First Published: Dec 14, 2017 09:03 IST