‘BJP bribe’ scribe held for another’s post
A Leh journalist who had last year alleged a BJP attempt to bribe reporters was briefly arrested on Saturday over another person’s abusive remarks against Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal.
Tsewang Rigzin, a journalist with the Jammu-based State Times who also runs a prominent Facebook page, Ladakh in the Media, was arrested following a complaint from Namgyal. The abusive comment against the MP had appeared on Rigzin’s Facebook page.
Rigzin, who was granted bail on Saturday evening, has received widespread support.
The journalist released a video and a statement on Monday night detailing the “real” reasons for his arrest.
He told The Telegraph he had been arrested because of his role in “exposing” how BJP politicians allegedly tried to bribe journalists in Leh for favourable coverage ahead of last year’s parliamentary polls.
He said he had been targeted also for taking a stand against last week’s resolution by the BJP-led Leh autonomous council seeking constitutional safeguards for Ladakh.
“My Facebook page has 34,000 members, which is quite a big number in a place like Ladakh (with a population of 2.5 lakh). I was summoned twice by the police, first on September 1 and then on September 5, in relation to a comment made by somebody,” he said.
“I told them it’s not possible to monitor all the comments and offered to delete it but they told me not to, saying it would destroy evidence. On September 5, they told me they could not trace the person who had made the remarks. I don’t know whether he is a real person or a fake. But they told me they have to arrest me. I fully cooperated.… It was all planned.”
Rigzin said he was not detained in the lockup and had called an acquaintance to deposit bail for his release. He said the arrest was made under IPC Section 188 (disobeying a public servant). He also faces charges under Sections 294 (public obscenity) and 500 (defamation).
Namgyal did not respond to calls from this newspaper. The MP, however, defended his decision to lodge a complaint in a Facebook post on Tuesday, asking how he could be expected to “tolerate such unacceptable acts towards my family”.
He did not mention Rigzin by name but named the person who had abused him. The comment, he wrote, was related neither “to my political profession, nor to my party affiliation (or) to my stand on current issues”.
“It was (a) purely personal attack on my family members which is (a) very emotional issue for me. So I request all to please let police work independently rather (than) standing (with) anyone without knowing facts and supporting one who is trying to gain public sympathy by mixing the matter with other issues.”
Namgyal said he had lodged the FIR as a “husband of my beloved wife and as a father (of) our son”.
Rigzin said that had the MP called him, he would have clarified the matter.
The arrest came two days after the BJP-run Leh council sought job and land safeguards for Ladakhis under Article 371, the Sixth Schedule or a domicile law.
Rigzin said nobody supported a domicile law in Ladakh as it would encroach on the rights of Ladakhis. The Centre’s new domicile law for Jammu and Kashmir has partially thrown open jobs for “outsiders”.
“I feel that the action against me was just an excuse to harass me, and to silence the voices of thousands of people who are coming out so strongly in support of Sixth Schedule. For several months LiTM (Rigzin’s Facebook page) has been a platform where thousands can listen and express their views,” he said in a statement.
“Secondly, the BJP has been somehow trying to intimidate me for more than a year now, ever since we exposed the bribery case during (the) Lok Sabha election. I was one of the journalists instrumental in making the case public. Whenever I felt I should speak up on an issue as an activist or as a citizen, I never hesitated.”