The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday grilled Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi in a money laundering case pertaining to the National Herald newspaper. ED officials questioned Gandhi for over 9 hours—over three hours in the first round which began at 11 in the morning. The second round of questioning started at about 3.45 pm at the ED headquarters. Rahul has to appear before the ED again on Tuesday as the probe agency will continue with its questioning.
ED officials began investigating alleged financial irregularities into National Herald case after a trial court took cognisance of an Income Tax Department probe carried out on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by former BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.
According to sources in the central agency, the Congress leader is being questioned by an Assistant Director level officer under the supervision of a Deputy Director and a Joint Director.
During the day, Congress Party workers staged protests in various parts of the country, joined by senior leaders like P. Chidambaram, Sachin Pilot, Adhir Ranjan Chaudhari, KC Venugopal, Deepender Hooda and Jairam Ramesh and Ashok Gehlot, among other MPs, expressing solidarity with their leader. It was alleged that senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P Chidambaram suffered a fracture in his left rib after he was pushed away by Delhi Police. Also, the party alleged that its Rajya Sabha MP KC Venugopal
was manhandled by the Police. The protesting leaders were detained by Delhi Police.
Thousands gathered around the Congress Party headquarters at Akbar Road shouted slogans in support of Gandhi. Posters stating, “I am not Savarkar, I am Rahul Gandhi”, “Truth will prevail” and “Dear Modi and Shah, this is Rahul Gandhi, he will not bow down” were seen outside Rahul Gandhi’s residence. Amid sloganeering by his supporters, Gandhi marched from his residence to ED headquarters on APJ Abdul Kalam Road, where heavy deployment of police force was seen.
Slamming the BJP government at the Centre, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said, “Modi government has imposed an undeclared emergency in the entire central Delhi area. Thousands of barricades have come up. Thousands of Congress workers have been arrested since last night. Congress will continue raising the issues of people. National Herald is a heritage of the country. We are determined to protect the national heritage.”
He further said, “We are the protectors of the Constitution. We will not bow down or be scared. By deploying a large police force, it has been proven that the Modi government is shaken by the Congress.”
A day before, police authorities had refused the Congress Party permission to hold a rally called ‘Satyagraha March’ scheduled for Monday. The Delhi Police instead issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC. Several leaders were detained by the police including Venugopal, who was also manhandled, Hooda, Gehlot, Rajni Patil, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, L Hanumanthaiah and Su Thirunavukkarasar. Rajya Sabha MPs Patil and Hanumanthaiah said they will move a privilege motion in both Houses of Parliament against their undemocratic detention.
In a related development, Union minister and BJP MP Smriti Irani criticized the Congress for taking protest march in support of Rahul Gandhi. Addressing media persons here, Irani said, “Congress leaders have taken to the streets to pressurize an investigating agency openly because their corruption has been exposed.” What Congress leaders were doing was an attempt to protect the assets of the Gandhi family, she said.