Video emerges, Leh journalist bribe plot thickens

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SRINAGAR, MAY 8: Video footage emerged on Tuesday purportedly showing politicians handing over alleged cash packets to journalists in Leh ahead of the May 6 elections to the Ladakh parliamentary seat.
The footage, linked to an alleged attempt in a hotel in May to influence coverage ahead of the election, became public a day after the state BJP president had threatened to file a defamation case against reporters who had complained of attempts to bribe them.
“I seek written apology from the Press Club Leh within next 48 hours for the false propaganda,” Ravinder Raina wrote in a letter.
The Press Club in Leh had complained to the Election Commission that some BJP leaders tried to bribe reporters after Raina had addressed a media conference.
The footage shows a person resembling BJP chief Raina chatting and shaking hands with journalists while his colleague hands over the envelopes to reporters. One reporter is seen opening the envelope and immediately returning it to a BJP leader, who does not take it back. The woman drops it on the table next to him.
Press Club member Rinchen Angmo had earlier told this newspaper she had returned the envelope to the BJP leader after she found there was cash in it.
On Tuesday, BJP legislative council member Vikram Randhawa told The Telegraph the “envelopes” he was seen handing over to reporters contained only invitation cards for a Union Minister’s rally.
“There is some politics in it…. We were only inviting them for the next day’s (Saturday’s) function. After the event they (the reporters) all had a lavish lunch with us,” Randhawa added.
But Leh Press Club president Morup Stanzin said the envelopes were packed with Rs 500 notes and the reporters were told it was a “token of love”.
“There was nothing but cash in it,” he said. The footage, he added, “appears to be genuine”.
Leh police chief Sargun Shukla said the footage had been sent to a court. The police, she added, can lodge an FIR only after the court directs so. (Courtesy: TT)