Morup Stanzin

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In a major setback to BJP’s Ladakh unit local journalists alleged that senior politicians tried to bribe them just before the constituency went to polls on May 6.

On May 02, BJP held a press conference at Hotel Singge Palace but at the end of the press conference as the journalists were leaving they were allegedly given envelopes, believed to be filled with Rs 500 notes.

This snowballed into a major controversy when on May 03 the Press Club filed a complaint alleging BJP of handing money to its members to report in the party’s favour ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Ladakh.

President of Press Club, Leh, Morup Stanzin who has talked to different media outlets narrated the sequence of events, “At the end of the press conference, as we were leaving, BJP MLC Vikram Randhawa along with BJP president Ravinder Raina gave envelopes to four reporters. When one of the reporters unsealed the envelope, we saw a bundle of 500 rupee notes.”

Stanzin said that they were shocked to see how blatantly the right-wing party was bribing them. Shocked and surprised, the reporters outrightly rejected their offer.

“When the reporters told them this was wrong, they replied that it is only a token of love. I was also present there. I am witness to that incident. We were taken aback. When we again said that we don’t need this, they said that ‘it happens everywhere, what’s new in this?’”

“The reporters kept the envelopes on the table and left the hall. Since then, we all are very dejected. We are journalists; we are not sell-outs that any party will come and bribe us. We are loyal to our service,” Stanzin added.

Ladakh is the largest parliamentary constituency in J&K in terms of area. Spread across Leh and Kargil, Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency has 559 polling stations – 294 for Leh and 265 for Kargil, respectively – set up for 1,71,819 voters.

BJP straight away refused the allegation rather asked the press club Ladakh to apologize or face the defamation charges. But, in the new twist to the story, the video footage of the press conference was out, purportedly showing politicians handing over alleged cash packets to journalists.

But the more interesting part of the story is that Leh District election officer and deputy commissioner Avny Lavasa said the allegations were found prima facie correct and has written to the police to file either an FIR or a complaint. The police have filed an FIR and put it up before the court.

– Umar Mukhtar

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