Dhumal Purportedly Heard Instructing Phone Taps on Virbhadra; Inquiry Ordered

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has ordered an inquiry into an audio CD in which he is purportedly heard instructing the vigilance chief to tap phones of Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha, reported IANS.

Report said that the CD was among three CDs which were sent to selected journalists, legislators and High Court judges on Tuesday.

The first CD had a man sounding like Dhumal, who was heard directing the tapping of Virbhadra’s phone, the second has him purportedly speaking about former union ministers Sukh Ram and Shanta Kumar, report said.

Third was a video CD, report said, in which BJP MP Virendra Kashyap was shown allegedly accepting cash for 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 was quoted as saying by IANS.

“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 was quoted as saying.

About the video CD showing 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.”

The alleged conversation recorded in the audio CD, DGP (Vigilance) DS Manhas is heard asking Dhumal about tapping Virbhadra and his wife’s phones, to which purported Dhumal was heard replying: “Do it.”

Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife were booked on August 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 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.

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