Friday, Aug 12, 2022

ED Summons Rahul Gandhi For Fourth Day, Congress's Protest Continues Nationwide: All You Need To Know

Congress workers burnt tyres outside ED office and the party accused Delhi Police of entering their party headquarters forcefully and assaulting workers on Wednesday. 

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi PTI

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for a fourth round of quizzing in the National Herald case on Friday. 

Congress party on Wednesday held protests outside the ED office and party headquarters in Delhi as the federal agency questioned Gandhi for the third consecutive day over eight hours in the money laundering case. Following the protest, the Delhi Police detained a total of 240 protesters. 

Rahul arrived at the ED office at around 11:35 am and his questioning began at 12 noon. The ED has been conducting a video and audio recording of his statements, which are being typed on A4 size papers and are minutely reviewed by him and signed before submission to the investigating officer.

The ED is seeking answers about his "personal role" in taking decisions with regard to National Herald and its owner Young Indian.

ED sources told PTI that Rahul is being asked about the assets worth about Rs 800 crore "owned" by Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and how a not-for-profit company like Young Indian Limited (YIL) was undertaking commercial activities of renting out its land and building assets.

Rahul has clocked over 24 hours of questioning since Monday. He was on Tuesday questioned for over 11 hours and left the ED office after 11 in the night. 

Officials said Rahul was called on Wednesday as the questioning and the recording of a statement are taking a long time.

While ED sources informed that Rahul recorded his statement and checked its transcript minutely, Congress leaders claimed that the investigators took multiple breaks during his questioning on Monday.

About 15-16 questions about the incorporation of YIL, the operations of the National Herald newspaper, the loan given by the Congress to the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and the fund's transfer within the news media establishment have been put to Rahul during the questioning held till now, sources indicated.

Congress protests, allegations on Delhi Police

Congress party workers burnt tyres outside the ED office and the party accused Delhi Police of entering their party headquarters forcefully and assaulting workers. 

"In an act of absolute goondaism perpetuated by Delhi police at stance of government, they entered Congress office and beat up workers. This is criminal trespass. Their goondaism has reached its zenith. This won't be tolerated and will be accounted for," said senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, as per ANI.

Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge called Delhi Police "the private army of the BJP" over the incident.

The Delhi Police, however, denied the "totally false" charge.

A senior police officer said, "We had tried to stop them and tried to close the gate of AICC (All India Congress Committee) in order to prevent a procession from being taken out. In this process, their might be some scrimmage, but police had not tried to enter the premises of the AICC and they had no reason to enter."

Senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot has also been detained by the police, according to reports.

Congress's 'Show of Strength'

Several Youth Congress and Mahila Congress workers protesting outside the Congress office on Akbar Road were roughed up by the police and forcibly taken away on Wednesday, a party worker said.

Delhi Pradesh Congress workers also staged a protest outside the heavily barricaded ED office against party Rahul's questioning.

Earlier, Rahul joined senior party leaders at a "dharna" at the Congress headquarters, where the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and party MPs were also present.

Hundreds of Congress leaders and supporters were detained outside the party headquarters at 24 Akbar Road and around Central Delhi as they tried to hold a protest against the ED action for the second day.

Congress leaders, workers detained

Congress leaders and workers on Wednesday staged protests outside the ED office and the party headquarters in Delhi and were detained by police.

Around 800 Congress-associated people, including workers and senior leaders, have been detained since Monday, said officials.

Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order zone-II) Sagar Preet Hooda said that the protesters did not have permission.

"We have detained around 800 Congress supporters and leaders since Monday. They did not have permission to protest and we conveyed it to them. Despite that they staged protests. We have made adequate security arrangements," Hooda said. 

The police had on Monday detained 459 Congress workers and senior leaders on and 217 on Tuesday. 

A police statement had said CrPC Section 144 is already in force with effect from May 24 this year in the area, thereby prohibiting holding of any public meeting, processions and demonstration. 

The Congress had alleged that its leaders were manhandled by police during Monday's protest as they tried to walk to the ED office.

All approach roads leading to the ED office were made out of bounds on Tuesday for the public as prohibitory orders were imposed and barricades put up.

A large posse of police personnel including from the central anti-riot police force RAF and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were deployed.

K C Venugopal and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury were among scores of party leaders detained for violating prohibitory orders outside the heavily barricaded party office on Akbar road.

Lok Sabha MP Manickam Tagore said he and some other leaders, including P L Punia, were not allowed to enter the Congress office and were detained at the Mandir Marg police station.

Among the other leaders detained were Randeep Surjewala, Jairam Ramesh, Gaurav Gogoi, Deepender Singh Hooda, Ranjeet Ranjan, Jeby Mather, Imran Pratapgarhi, Youth Congress chief B V Srinivas and National Students' Union of India (NSUI) chief Neeraj Kundan, with some of them even roughed up.

Venugopal said this is nothing but "political vendetta" by the Modi government, which is trying to defame the Congress leadership through "false cases".

"They can imprison us but they cannot imprison the truth. The fight for the truth shall go on," he added.

Protests break out in Jaipur and elsewhere

The Congress staged a symbolic gherao of the Rajasthan Raj Bhavan here on Thursday and demonstrated against the alleged repressive policies of the Centre.

Congress state president Govind Singh Dotasra claimed that the ED's case against Gandhi was false and part of the Centre's conspiracy to divert people's attention from real issues facing the country.

Congress leaders and workers staged a sit-in at the Civil Lines gate near the Raj Bhavan.

"This false case has been registered against Rahul Gandhi to divert people's attention from the country's problems, including unemployment," Dotasra said in his address to the protesters.

He said party workers would protest at all district headquarters in the state on Friday. State ministers Pratap Singh Khachariawas and Ashok Chandna also addressed the protest demonstration.

Meanwhile, over 300 protestors were detained by the police in Puducherry, while water cannons were used in Delhi, Punjab and Kerala to disperse the mob. Demonstrations by Congress workers turned violent in Hyderabad.

Karnataka Congress workers marched to Raj Bhavan to give a memorandum and complaint letter against the BJP over the ED's probe and Congress leaders DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah were detained on their way to Raj Bhavan.

Leaders detained in Maharashtra

Congress leaders including senior ministers of the Maharashtra government were detained by police on Thursday as they protested at Raj Bhavan here against the ED s questioning of Rahul Gandhi. 

Police took action as Congress leaders tried to remove barricades placed outside the Raj Bhavan gate during their protest march.

State Congress president Nana Patole, PWD minister Ashok Chavan, revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat, school education minister Varsha Gaikwad, medical education minister Amit Deshmukh and textile minister Aslam Shaikh were among those detained, police officials said.

They will be taken to the nearby police station and released, said an official.

Earlier, speaking to reporters, Patole said the party was protesting against the "dictatorial attitude of the Narendra Modi government", and attempts to "suppress the opposition's voice" will not succeed. 

The BJP-Congress feud

The Congress party has claimed that there was no FIR or scheduled offence in this case, on the basis of which a PMLA case was filed and Gandhi and his mother Congress president were summoned.

Officials said the ED action is on a "higher pedestal than that of proceedings undertaken on the basis of the FIR" as the court has taken cognisance of the Income Tax department charge sheet filed in the case and issued process.

The BJP  hit out at the Congress party, saying it is blocking roads to show its "leaders are above the law" and termed the protests "drama".

"When lawful action is taking place in a case of corruption, Congress is doing this drama and blocking roads. It shows the party considers its leaders above law," said BJP's national spokesperson Sambit Patra.

Union minister Anurag Thakur also took a swipe at Rahul Gandhi over his questioning by the ED after Rahul criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to provide 10 lakh government jobs in the next 18 months.

"I would only say to Rahul ji, you should first provide the right answers to the ED on the serious charges of corruption made against you," the BJP leader told reporters.

The Congress, however, accused the BJP of conspiring to defame the Gandhi family and the party by destroying their credibility through a "false" money laundering case being pursued by the Enforcement Directorate.

Chief party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala claimed that the Centre is scared of Gandhi's politics as he is raising issues concerning the public.

"This entire exercise is illegal, unconstitutional, malicious and an exercise by a prime minister burning in the fire of political vendetta," Surjewala said.

(With PTI Inputs)