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Himachal CM Dhumal Orders Probe Into Phonetapping CD

PTI 20 Jan 2010, 17:57:35 IST
PTI

Controversial CDs purportedly containing the voice of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal ordering tapping of Union Minister Virbhadra Singh's telephone have surfaced but Dhumal on Wednesday rubbished their contents and ordered a CID probe into the issue.

"I have asked the state CID to carry out a probe into the CDs to bring truth before the people," Dhumal told PTI, while categorically denying the charge and dubbing the CDs as "fake and fabricated".

The probe will be carried out by Additional Director General of Police, CID, I D Bhandari, official sources said. No time frame has been fixed for completion of the task, but the CID has been asked to submit its report "at the earliest", they said.

A packet containing two audio CDs and one video CD was sent to some newspaper offices in Shimla on Tuesday night.

In one audio CD, Dhumal, who belongs to BJP, is purportedly giving a "go ahead" to Director General of Police (State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau) D S Manhas to tap phones of his Congress rival Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh.

Singh, who served as Chief Minister five times before becoming a union minister, had in the past alleged that his telephones were being tapped by the state authorities.

The second audio CD, which also purportedly carried Dhumal's voice, pertained to a 2007 audio CD in which the Chief Minister had said he did not have anything to do with the recording of the Union Minister's phone in 1989.

Lashing out at Dhumal, the Union Minister said that he all along knew about the "antics" adopted by the Chief Minister. "Dhumal should not have been a politician, but a spy," he retorted.

In July 2007, Vijay Singh Mankotia, a former Congress minister, who was an opponent of Virbhadra Singh, had released an audio CD on the eve of Lok Sabha bypoll in Hamirpur, which Dhumal had won by a huge margin.

This CD allegedly contained the voices of Singh, his former MP wife and that of a former bureaucrat, late Mohinder Lal, talking about some bribe.

On the basis of the report of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh, which confirmed the voice of Singh in the CD, the state vigilance had in July last year lodged an FIR against the Union Minister and his wife and a probe is on.

The video CD is shown featuring BJP MP from Shimla, Virendra Kashyap, purportedly accepting money from some unidentified persons for acquiring land for setting up an educational institution in Solan.

The sting operation on the MP is believed to have been carried out on the eve of last general elections and it became an issue for the Congress during the Lok Sabha polls.

As the CDs surfaced, state Congress President and MLA Kaul Singh Thakur demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter.

"The matter (highlighted through the CDs) are grave. Hence an inquiry by CBI should be conducted to bring out the truth," Thakur told PTI.

Meanwhile, when asked if he suspected the hand of opposition Congress behind the CDs, Dhumal said, "The truth will come out in the CID inquiry."

Talking to reporters, the BJP MP dubbed the CD as "fabricated" and ruled out his resignation from the Lok Sabha in the wake of the controversy.

"Why shall I resign? The video CD is fabricated," said Kashyap who was elected from Shimla (Reserved) constituency last April.

He said there was no parallel between his case and that of former BJP MP from Hamirpur, Suresh Chandel, who had to quit in the wake of cash-for-query scam.

Kashyap, elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in the last general elections after four unsuccessful bids, said the release of the video CD featuring him was a conspiracy of his political or personal rivals.

 Asked if some unidentified persons had given him money to acquire land for setting up an educational institution at Solan as purportedly shown in the CD, the MP said he did not remember the particular incident.

"People come up with their problems to politicians and I am no exception," he said.

The BJP lawmaker said he had found a packet, containing Rs 25,000, at a hotel in Solan where he had gone to attend a marriage function before the last Lok Sabha polls.

He had deposited the packet with police, he said.

 Welcoming a CID probe into the CDs, Kashyap said he would explore legal options after submission of the report. PTI