Updated: May 9, 2019 6:47:13 am
The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police on Wednesday registered an FIR against “a group of persons” in connection with an alleged attempt by several BJP leaders to bribe media persons in Leh last week, just ahead of polling in the constituency.
A group of seven journalists had alleged last week that senior BJP leaders including state unit chief Ravinder Raina and MLC Vikram Randhawa had tried to bribe them after a press conference on May 2 by handing them envelopes that contained cash to get them to favour the BJP in their poll narrative.
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According to sources, police registered the FIR on directions of a local court. The police had approached the court with a complaint forwarded by District Election Officer and Deputy Commissioner, Leh, Avny Lavasa.
Lavasa had forwarded the complaint to the police after a fact finding inquiry ordered by her found prima facie merit in the allegations.
SSP, Leh, Sargun Shukla said the FIR had been registered “against a group of people” under section 171 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC).
Lavasa said though the complaint claimed alleged violations of the Model Code of Conduct, it amounted to a criminal offence.
Raina, however, dismissed the allegations and said he had left the venue along with some media persons immediately after the press conference.
On Tuesday, video footage from the event surfaced on the internet. In it, several people can be seen handing out envelopes to a group of people at the venue. The Indian Express could not verify the authenticity of the footage independently. Pointing out that the envelopes were given to media persons by other leaders including Randhawa in his absence, he said they contained invitation cards for a public rally to be addressed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 4. “The entire matter will be looked into by the party”, he said.
He termed the entire controversy as politically motivated “They(journalists) had cameras , they could have recorded videos bringing out currency notes from the envelopes,” he said, adding that the entire controversy was planned after Congress failed to hold its scheduled rally in Leh on May 3 for want of an audience, while thousands attended Sitharaman’s rally the next day.
He also threatened to file defamation suit against those who had named him in the complaint.
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