Case Against 2 Rajasthan Journalists For Reporting MLAs' "Phone Tapping"

Though numerous TV channels had reported that phones of MLAs in the Ashok Gehlot camp were "tapped" during their Jaisalmer stay in August, a case of spreading misinformation has only been filed against two journalists.

Local media had reported that phones of MLAs in Ashok Gehlot camp were "tapped" in Jaisalmer. (File)

Jaipur:

The Rajasthan Police has filed a case against two senior journalists for reporting that phones of Congress MLAs were allegedly tapped during the political crisis that brought the Ashok Gehlot-led government to the brink of collapse after a massive rebellion by his then deputy Sachin Pilot.

However, a month after the crisis has blown over, a case has been filed on the basis of allegations that phones of MLAs in the Ashok Gehlot camp were tapped after they were taken to Jaisalmer in August to secure them against horse trading. The allegations had snowballed into a political controversy with the BJP demanding a CBI probe in to the "illegal" phone tapping and the Congress stating that the demand amounted to "admission of guilt".

Though numerous TV channels and local media agencies had carried the story, a case has only been filed against journalists Sharat Kumar and Lokendra Singh. They have been charged with circulating wrong or non-verified news, conspiracy. Sections of the IT Act which empowers the police to search their phones and laptops have been used, the police said.

It is notable that Mr Singh's news agency has the contract for media coverage of Sachin Pilot who is campaigning for the bypolls in Madhya Pradesh. Earlier this year, the BJP had wrested power from Congress after 22 of the party's MLAs resigned in support of Jyotiraditya Scindia.

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Mr Pilot is seen to be behind the party's revival in Rajasthan after its decimation by the BJP in 2011. He was a contender for the Chief Minister's post but was persuaded to take the job of Ashok Gehlot's deputy by Rahul Gandhi after the party's victory in the 2018 assembly polls.

The friction between Mr Pilot and Mr Gehlot that started soon after continued. Matters came to a head in July after Mr Pilot was summoned for questioning by the state police, which is under the Chief Minister's control, over alleged deal-making with the BJP to pull down the government.