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Leh bribery allegation: Commission completes BJP's internal probe, report to be submitted soon

twitter-logoPTI | May 28, 2019 | Updated 18:13 IST

Jammu, May 28 (PTI) The four-member commission conducting the BJP's internal probe into allegations of party members offering bribes to influence the Parliamentary polls has completed its ground-level investigation, sources said. The commission members, headed by Justice (retd) G D Sharma, have returned from Leh, sources in the BJP told PTI. Other members of the panel include former IPS officer and IG S S Bijral, Dr Pallav Sharma and Advocate Tashi Gayalson, they said. On May 4, the Press Club, Leh, had accused the BJP of trying to bribe its members by offering "envelops filled with money", a charge denied by the party which said the allegations were "politically motivated". The fact finding commission recorded statements of journalists, persons associated with Press club, Leh, local leaders and examined CCTV footages, the sources said. "The panel members have left Leh and would soon submit the findings of the probe to the party head," they said. The police in Leh on May 9 registered an FIR against BJP leader and MLC Vikram Randhawa in connection with bribe allegations. The case was registered under sections 171E (punishment for bribery) and 171F (punishment for undue influence or personation at an election) of the Ranbir Panel Code (RPC) warranting investigation, officials said. An FIR was registered after the chief judicial magistrate of Leh directed the police to launch a probe into the matter on Wednesday last week. The FIR was registered against BJP leader and MLC Vikram Randhawa. Randhawa called the allegations "baseless" and said the Congress was trying to malign the BJP's image. Randhawa, who is the BJP's Ladakh in-charge, said, "All allegations of Leh journalists are baseless and misleading. It was supported by anti-BJP elements in Kashmir and the Congress to malign the image of the party." On May 4, Press Club, Leh, had accused the BJP of trying to bribe its members by offering "envelopes filled with money" after a press conference. A two-page letter signed by several members of the Press Club was circulating on social media. A CCTV footage of the alleged incident also came to light. Randhawa, however, claimed the envelopes contained invitations for reporters for the coverage of Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's visit to Leh on May 4. The MLC had said some media persons opened the envelopes and returned them, saying they don't need special invitations as they were already covering the minister's visit. BJP's state unit chief Ravinder Raina supported a probe into the matter but also questioned the claim of journalists asking why was the money not shown in the CCTV footage. "They should have shown the notes after opening the packets. They had cameras too. The press conference was held on May 2 and they could have shown it on the same day. Only on May 4 it came out on social media as a planned conspiracy to defame the BJP," Raina said. The national BJP president Amit Shah had setup the fact-finding commission headed by Justice Sharma to probe the matter. PTI AB IND IND

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