Leh bribery case: 7 J&K journalists accuse BJP of offering money to influence Lok Sabha election

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An FIR has been registered against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and MLC Vikram Randhawa in connection with allegations that some journalists were offered bribes after a press conference to influence Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir’s Leh.

However, Randhawa termed the allegations baseless and said the Congress was trying to malign the image of the BJP.

What is Leh bribery case?

On May 4, the Press Club Leh accused the BJP of trying to bribe its members by offering “envelopes filled with money” after a press conference.

Seven journalists wrote a letter to the local police station house officer (SHO) and asked him to register an FIR against the party’s state president Ravindra Raina and Randhawa for “violating the Model Code of Conduct and also at their attempt to bribe mediapersons of Ladakh”.

Voting in Ladakh Lok Sabha seat took place on May 6 in Phase 5.

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What has happened so far?

Following the accusations, a two-page letter signed by several members of the Press Club started circulating on social media.

CCTV footage of the alleged incident also came to light. In the video, several BJP leaders, including Raina, could be seen distributing envelopes among journalists. However, as soon as the journalists opened the envelopes, they returned those to the BJP leaders.

Former Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah called for action in the case. “In light of the CCTV footage purported to show BJP leaders attempting to bribe journalists in Leh, I’m retweeting my original tweet with the letter of complaint by the Press Club Leh. Action must follow,” Abdullah said in a tweet.

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On May 8, the chief judicial magistrate of Leh directed police to launch a probe into the matter.

On May 9, police registered an FIR against Randhawa. District Election Officer (DEO) and Deputy Commissioner of Leh Avny Lavasa told news agency PTI that only Randhawa was named in the FIR.

The case was registered under Section 171E (punishment for bribery) and 171F (punishment for undue influence or personation at an election) of the Ranbir Panel Code (RPC) warranting investigation, she said.