Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate for the fourth day of questioning in the National Herald money laundering case.
A huge contingent of police and paramilitary personnel was deployed around the federal agency's office even as Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) has been imposed in the area like last week. The Congress MP has spent a total of about 30 hours at the ED office over three days last week, where he was questioned over multiple sessions and his statement recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The fourth day of questioning was deferred from June 17 to this day after Gandhi requested the agency for postponing the session as he wanted to be with his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi in hospital, where she is admitted for post-Covid issues.
The probe pertains to alleged financial irregularities in the Congress-promoted Young Indian Private Limited, which owns the National Herald newspaper. The ED is understood to be asking Rahul Gandhi about the incorporation of the Young Indian Private Limited, operations of the National Herald, the loan given by the party to the newspaper's publisher Associated Journals Limited (AJL), and the transfer of funds within the news media establishment.
Sonia Gandhi has also been summoned by the agency for questioning in the case on June 23. The Congress has accused the Centre of targeting opposition leaders by misusing investigative agencies and has termed the entire action a political vendetta.
Rahul blames late Motilal Vora
Rahul told ED that former Congress treasurer Motilal Vora was responsible for all the transactions pertaining to the Young Indian's acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd's (AJL) assets worth hundreds of crores from Congress.
Rahul disclaimed personal knowledge of transactions being investigated for alleged money laundering in the light of a report of the income tax department. “He has denied having any knowledge of the loans or accommodation entry taken by the Young Indian, blaming everything on Vora, who is no more,” ED sources said.
When approached for a response, Congress secretary Pranav Jha said: "proceedings of the ED are of judicial nature and leaking them is a criminal offense. Therefore, we will not comment on it. "
Cong workers organise massive protests
A day after the Congress alleged that Delhi Police officials forced their way into the AICC headquarters and lathi-charged leaders who were protesting the questioning of Rahul Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case, the party intensified its protests across different states in the country.
Congress workers held protests in Delhi, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jammu and Chandigarh. The protesters turned violent at some places and jostled with police personnel deployed to maintain law and order.
In Delhi, a delegation of top Congress leaders was escorted by the Delhi Police to meet the Lieutenant Governor after the party launched a protest outside the LG’s residence. The party was demanding action against “police highhandedness” displayed at its headquartersy. Mayhem broke out on Thursday afternoon, with Congress leaders climbing over barricades and police deploying water cannons to disperse the protestors.
In Karnataka, Congress workers held a protest in Bengaluru, disrupting the traffic in the city. The party office has organised a march to Raj Bhavan to give a memorandum and complaint letter against BJP. The Bengaluru East DCP warned of preventive custody if the Congress workers proceeded with the march. He said the Karnataka High Court had earlier ordered that protests won’t be held anywhere except the Freedom Park.
Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar said, “It (protest) is our right, we will fight for justice. They (ED) are not taking cases of any BJP leaders, they are harassing only Congress people.”