The Indian Journalists Union (IJU) expressed shock and strongly condemned the reported attempt by an official at Karnataka Chief Minister’s Office to bribe a dozen-odd journalists by giving cash gifts ranging between Rs 1 and 2.5 lakh on Diwali.
The cash was in envelopes along with sweet boxes in hampers sent to them, IJU stated in a release. Hailing the response by at least two journalists, who returned the gifts, the IJU demanded an inquiry by Lokayukta be instituted as well as the Press Council of India take suo moto notice and take appropriate action, it stated.
According to media reports in The News Minute, three of around a dozen journalists, who allegedly received the hampers, confirmed that cash was distributed, and two of them claimed they had given it back to the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), IJU mentioned. While Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has denied knowledge of any ‘cash’ gifts being given, the IJU is of the opinion that his media advisor clearly would not have acted on his own, it stated.
It is further reported that the amount of cash differed for chief reporters and editorial heads, but it could not be ascertained how many journalists were given the cash hamper and how many returned it, IJU stated. Reports also emanate that a minister in the Bommai government is said to have distributed gold coins to select journalists, it added.
The brazen bribe being offered to journalists through Diwali hampers was shocking and unheard of, IJU maintained. Diwali is a festival of exchanging gifts, but the Karnataka government has misused it to bribe journalists, it stated. It is unethical and the government must be made unanswerable while the PCI must take suo moto notice, it added.