ED to again grill Rahul Gandhi today amid Congress's protests
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will reportedly appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) again on Tuesday for questioning in a money laundering case related to the National Herald newspaper. He was grilled for over 10 hours on Monday and left the agency's office at around 11:10 pm. Chaotic scenes were witnessed in Delhi and other states as Congress workers protested and sloganeered in Gandhi's support.
- The Congress planned a march to the ED office to demonstrate a political show of strength as Gandhi appears before the ED on Monday.
- The party sees the ED summons to its senior leaders as a political vendetta and wants to counter the ED politically and legally.
- However, the Delhi Police denied them permission to hold a march citing the law and order situation.
On Monday, Gandhi was surrounded by hundreds of party workers, who held a protest march, despite the Delhi Police denying them permission citing law and order issues on Sunday. Nearly 459 Congress members—including 26 MPs (including senior leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, KC Venugopal, and Mallikarjun Kharge) and five MLAs—were detained for not following lawful directions, said Delhi's Special Commissioner of Police, Sagar Singh Kalsi.
Kalsi said that the AICC secretary, in a letter addressed to the police, had assured that the gathering will not accompany VIPs to the ED office. However, as soon as Gandhi left for the ED office on Monday, many Congress leaders, workers, and functionaries started proceeding along with him in a massive show of strength called the "Satyagraha" march against the ED's move.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders Chowdhury and P Chidambaram alleged that they were manhandled by the police. The Congress also slammed the government for not allowing peaceful protests. The Delhi Police said that allegations of manhandling and injuries to protesting Congress leaders during police action would be diligently looked into. The police added that CrPc Section 144 was in place in the area.
The ED had on June 1 summoned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son in connection with a money laundering case involving the National Herald newspaper. The Congress chief was earlier required to be present before the ED on June 8 (Wednesday). However, after she tested positive for the COVID-19 infection and her subsequent hospitalization on Sunday, she will now depose on June 23.
The case in which the Gandhis have been summoned relates to accusations of fraud and theft of National Herald funds in the purchase of the newspaper. They are accused of obtaining the National Herald assets by purchasing the former publisher of the newspaper, Associated Journals Limited (AJL), through another company Young India (YI) Limited, in which they had an 86% share.
The high-profile case came to light in 2013 when BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a complaint before a trial court. He accused top Congress leaders of cheating and breach of trust in the acquisition of Associated Journals Limited by Young Indian. The National Herald was a newspaper founded by Jawaharlal Nehru along with other freedom fighters in 1938.
The Income Tax Department also began investigating the case earlier and issued a demand notice to YI for Rs. 249.15 crore for the fiscal year 2011-12. In April, senior Congress leader Kharge and Congress treasurer Pawan Bansal were also interrogated by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. While Kharge is the CEO of YI, Bansal is the managing director of AJL.