Saturday, August 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Pramod to file defamation suit
BJP rallies behind minister
Tribune News Service and Agencies

New Delhi, August 16
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan today ruled out his resignation on the Shivani Bhatnagar murder issue and said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had told him “not to worry.”

Mr Mahajan told reporters here that Mr Vajpayee called him late last night and told him “you don’t have to worry.”

Replying to a question, Mr Mahajan said he would file a criminal defamation case against Mrs Madhu Sharma for making “false allegations” against him in the case by Monday or Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the BJP today rallied behind Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan ruling out his resignation from the Union Cabinet.

Briefing newspersons, BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley said that acting on party advice, Mr Mahajan would file a criminal defamation case against Mrs Madhu Sharma, wife of former senior police officer Ravi Kant Sharma, for making “false allegations” against him in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case.

“The party has advised Mr Pramod Mahajan to file a criminal defamation case against the spouse of a person who has made such false allegations and he has accepted the advice and decided to act accordingly,” Mr Jaitley said.

Rejecting the allegations by Mrs Sharma as “clearly a diversionary tactics,” Mr Jaitley said it was being done at “the behest of an accused against whom Delhi police claims to have collected evidence in the murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar”.

Mr Jaitley said it was regrettable that prominence was being given to statements made at the behest of a fugitive and “bringing in the name of a respected person like a Union Minister because political names make big news even when there is no shred of evidence against them.”

Mr Jaitley said the statement of Mrs Sharma was “beneath condemnation”.

He said there was no shred of evidence against Mr Mahajan. It was likely to bring “unnecessary cloud” on Mr Mahajan even if temporary, he added.

Meanwhile, a day after Madhu Sharma’s allegations, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani described them as “malacious campaign” by vested interests intended to “derail” the probe which was on right course.

Hailing Mr Mahajan as a valued colleague, he said it was not without reason that the person, who was the prime suspect in the case, was absconding.



Sharma’s terms for surrender
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 16
Ms Pragati Sharma, elder daughter of Inspector-General Ravi Kant Sharma, prime suspect in the Shivani murder case, today said her father was willing to surrender only if the case was taken out of the hands of the Delhi police, which was directly under the Union Home Ministry.

Talking to newsmen at their Sector 6 residence this evening, Ms Sharma said the Delhi police had been working on a one-track objective of implicating her father in the murder of Shivani Bhatnagar. ‘‘We fear for his life and unless the case is transferred to another investigating agency, may be the CBI, he will not surrender,’’ she said.

It may be noted that Ms Madhu Sharma, Ravi Kant's wife , had last night named Mr Pramod Mahajan as being behind the murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar. She had said that Pramod Mahajan had had a 45-minute talk with Shivani on the day she was murdered in Delhi in January 1999. She had said that since her husband was being implicated solely on the basis of telephonic conversations, then why should Pramod Mahajan as also others who had called up Shivani Bhatnagar, not be questioned in this case.

Ms Pragati today said they would move the judiciary at the highest level in order to secure an anticipatory bail. In answer to a question about their lawyers' claim that Mr Sharma would surrender if the Delhi police was to withdraw the warrants of arrests against Mr Sharma, she said that this was also a possibility.

Lambasting the Delhi police, Pragati, along with her younger sister, Komal, said it had no proof against Ravi Kant. ‘‘Why should the finger of suspicion lie on my father? Besides my father, five other persons had undergone the lie detector test. Why have they been exonerated of murder charges?’’ they asked.

Reacting strongly to Mr L.K. Advani's statements against their mother and his giving a clean chit to Mr Parmod Mahajan , they said: ‘‘It speaks of malicious intent on the part of the Home Minister.

By refusing to look into the role of Mr Parmod Mahajan and excesses of the Delhi police, Mr Advani has shown complete disregard for human rights, civil liberties and the law of the land. Is Mr Parmod Mahajan or the Delhi police above the law?’’

They said that Mr Advani's unwillingness to order a CBI probe proved that there was much more at stake than what met the eye. ‘‘He (Mr Advani) talks of vested interests trying to derail investigations, when the entire investigation of the Delhi police is being dictated by vested interests against our father,’’ they added.

The family appealed to all political parties and civil liberty organisations to voice their anger against ‘‘this tyranny’’.

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