A case has been filed against the chief of the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir and a legislator in the state after journalists in the mountainous town of Leh alleged that the BJP leaders bribed them last week. The complaint was filed after a local court asked the police to file a case against the two leaders.
Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina and legislator Vikram Randhawa have been booked under charges of bribery and undue influence in elections. Both offenses are punishable with up to one-year imprisonment for each offense, NDTV reported.
A probe ordered by the local election officials in Leh has found an initial case of bribery following a complaint by a group of journalists that the BJP leaders offered them cash in envelopes at a press conference on May 2.
The journalists had accused the BJP of “trying to bribe reporters for favorable coverage” to influence the national election.
A widely-shared video clip shows envelopes being given to journalists at a press conference at a hotel in Leh.
In the CCTV clip, Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina is seen with journalists and a party legislator, Vikram Randhawa, is seen giving them envelopes to journalists.
The BJP has denied the allegations. The party said the lawmaker was handing out invites to the journalists for Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s rally in the region. It said it will sue the journalists for defamation.
Rinchen Angmo, one of the journalists, told NDTV that a senior party leader handed over envelopes to four journalists, including her, in front of Raina. The leaders told them its a token of love and asked them not to open the envelopes in the hall, she said.
“When we asked what is in the envelope, they told us not to open it then and that it is a token of love. When I checked, I saw many Rs. 500 notes. I returned it to them. But they refused to take it back. So I kept it on the table,” Angmo said.
The video also shows Angmo leaving her envelope on the table.
“The episode triggered reactions from Jammu and Kashmir politicians Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah who called for action after the video emerged,” NDTV reported.
The Ladakh region, that voted on Monday in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha election, witnessed a four-cornered contest between the BJP’s Tsering, Rigzin Saplbar of the Congress, Sajjad Hussain backed by the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, and independent candidate Asgar Ali Karbalai.