Prem Kumar Dhumal orders probe into release of phone tapping CD

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal Wednesday ordered a probe into an audio CD in which he is purportedly heard directing the vigilance chief to tap the phones of Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh.

The audio CD was one of three CDs sent to select journalists, legislators and high court judges Tuesday. While the first had a man sounding like Dhumal instructing the phone tapping, the second has the chief minister purportedly talking about former union ministers Sukh Ram and Shanta Kumar.         

The third was a video CD in which Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Virender Kashyap is shown allegedly accepting cash regarding the grant of permission to an educational institute in the state.        

"I ordered an inquiry this (Wednesday) morning to look into the authenticity of the audio CDs. The CID (Criminal Investigation Department) will conduct the inquiry within a timeframe," Dhumal told IANS over the phone.        

"If the CD is not authentic, the CID will find out who is behind the entire episode. It’s simple a cut-and-paste job and the CDs were fabricated with some ulterior motive," he said.        

On the video CD about BJP MP Kashyap, the chief minister said: "During the last parliamentary elections, someone gave a packet to Kashyap. When he opened the packet, there was some cash in it and he reported the matter to police. That case is already under investigation."        

In the alleged conversation recorded in the audio CD, Director General of Police (Vigilance) D.S. Manhas is asking Dhumal about tapping the phones of Virbhadra Singh and his wife. At this, a voice sounding like Dhumal is heard replying: "Do it."        

Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife were booked Aug 3, 2009 under the Prevention of Corruption Act on the basis of an audio CD released by his political adversary Vijay Singh Mankotia in 2007.        

The five-time former chief minister has been saying that the present BJP government is vindictive and settling scores with the opposition Congress by registering false and frivolous cases.        

He has also alleged several times that the state government has been tapping his phones.        

–Indo-Asian News Service   

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