‘Bribes To Media’: Leh Journos Content With Probe Panel

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SRINAGAR — As journalists expressed satisfaction over recommendations of the inquiry committee, probing the allegations of BJP leaders handing out cash-filled envelopes to journalists in Leh, the Congress, National Conference (NC)  and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday demanded action against saffron party leaders.   

An inquiry ordered into the incident which happened just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in the district, has, prima facie, found merit in the charges and the District Election Office is seeking directions from the court to register an FIR in the matter. After watching a video of the press conference where money was allegedly distributed and taking into account the complaint filed by the journalists, District Election Officer Avny Lavasa had on Tuesday approached the district court and “sought directions for registration of an FIR in the matter”.

Several members of the Press Club Leh (PCL), in a written complaint, had alleged that the organisers of the BJP press conference distributed envelopes with cash in front of BJP State president Ravinder Raina and Vikram Randhawa, MLC, on May 2. “After the press conference, these two leaders tried to bribe media persons by offering money in envelopes in a bid to use our platform to influence the outcome of the elections,” seven PCL journalists wrote in the complaint addressed to the station house officer (SHO).

NC vice-president Omar Abdullah demanded action on the issue. “In the light of the CCTV footage purported to show BJP leaders attempting to bribe journalists in Leh, action must follow,” he said.

PDP leader Ved Mahajan said the BJP was out to destroy democracy’s fourth pillar. “Such actions reflect the party’s mindset towards the vital and important institutions of democracy,” he said.

A Congress spokesman urged the Election Commission to take a strong note of the violation. “ Although the complaints have been forwarded, no action seems to have been taken so far,” the spokesman added.

According to Hindu newspaper, Randhawa, the BJP’s Ladakh in-charge, however, denied the allegations. “It is baseless and misleading. It was supported by anti-BJP elements in Kashmir and the Congress to malign the party image,” he said. He said the CCTV grab was of the invitation envelopes being given to reporters for the coverage of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Leh on May 4. “This is being shown as if money is being given to them,” he added.

On the recommendations of the DEO, Morpu said “we are satisfied with the inquiry committee, but said it is very “unfortunate” that the state BJP leadership is “blaming the media without admitting their guilt”.

“They have sent a letter to us, threatening to take us to the High Court, but we are true with (sic) out statement, and there is no question of saying sorry to them,” said the chief of the Leh press body. “They are demanding an apology from us when we should take an apology from them,” he said, according to outlook.

“We will stand by whatever the honourable court decides on the incident…there is no question of saying sorry to them,” said Morup who has worked as a journalist in Leh for almost a decade said.

The Press Club Leh in its complaint had accused the BJP state president Ravinder Raina of trying to bribe journalists on Thursday at a hotel in Leh where the saffron party leader was addressing a press conference.

“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 complaint said, according to a report in the NDTV.

The press body had filed separate complaints with the District Election Officer and SHO, Leh, and also issued a statement on its Facebook page over the issue, saying they registered the complaint as the BJP leaders had tried to “belittle the dignity of media of Leh by offering th


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