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By Pushp Saraf

Tsering Dorjay, BJP member of the J and K Legislative Council and the seniormost party leader of the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, has described the Leh media bribery scandal involving his party colleagues as “shameful if it is true.” -”

Dorjay, who also uses Chering as his first name, has made the observation in social media.

When contacted in Leh by India Legal, he confirmed having made the remark. He refused to go into details. Widely admired for his integrity, Dorjay was a Cabinet Minister in the coalition government led by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who resigned in June last year as the BJP and her People’s Democratic Party (PDP) fell out with each other. He had addressed the party’s election rallies in the Ladakh parliamentary constituency of which his hometown Leh is part along with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 4 and Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju who visited the area more than once during the campaign.

Dorjay was not present at the press conference in a hotel in Leh on May 2 addressed by J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina at which the BJP leaders were exposed to the charge of distributing envelopes containing cash to media persons who refused to take the bait and vehemently protested lodging a complaint subsequently with the police expecting election authorities to take cognisance.

Rigzin Spalbar, Congress candidate in the Ladakh constituency which went to the polls on May 6, has also lodged a complaint with the police alleging violation of the model code of conduct.

Dorjay’s reaction, being hailed by the local media community, is among the following important developments that have taken place in the last two days:

  1. The Chief Judicial Magistrate of Leh, on an application filed by the State House Officer of Leh police station has given a go-ahead signal to him “to investigate into the matter under law.” In his order of May 8, the CJM noted: “District Election Officer, Leh, through Additional District Magistrate, Leh, conducted an inquiry into the matter.” The enquiry “brought the matter of violation of Model Code of Conduct and provisions of the Representation of the Peoples Act as well as RPC, to the knowledge of SSP Leh for action under law. The SSP, Leh, directed SHO Police Station Leh for further necessary action under law.” The CJM remarked: “Perusal and consideration of the material on record reveals prima facie commission of non-cognizable offences punishable under Section 171E and 171F RPC warranting investigation.” (RPC is abbreviation of the Ranbir Penal Code, the main criminal law governing J&K, and its Section 171E provides for punishment for bribery and Section 171F punishment for undue influence or personation at an election).
  2. The police has registered FIR accordingly. The names of State BJP president Ravinder Raina, Member of the Legislative Council Vikram Randhawa, and at least two other party leaders Narinder Singh and Dorjay Wangchuk are said to have been mentioned in the FIR.
  3. The police is learnt to have recorded on May 9 the statements of media persons present at the press conference.
  4. Ravinder Raina has reiterated on May 8 that he would file a defamation case against Press Club Leh for dragging his name in the case as, according to him, it was not based on fact. He is reported to have suggested during an informal chat with newspersons in Jammu narco test for the BJP leaders and members of Press Club Leh present at the press conference. He has also been quoted as having said that the party would hold a probe into the matter and “being a disciplined organisation it will not hesitate in taking action against its own party men if found guilty.”
  5. According to him, the envelopes handed over to media persons contained an invitation for the May 4 party programme which was addressed by the Defence Minister in Leh.
  6. Vikram Randhawa and Narinder Singh, who is a party general secretary, have also rejected the allegations against them and said that there were indeed invitations in the envelopes.
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