Around 800 Congress members have been detained since Monday for holding protests against summons issued to party MP Rahul Gandhi in a money laundering case related to the National Herald case, reported PTI, citing the police.
Gandhi has been questioned by the central agency for three straight days since Monday. He has faced over 30 hours of questioning over the last three days at the Enforcement Directorate office in Delhi. He has been asked to join the investigation again on Friday.
Several Congress leaders, including KC Venugopal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Randeep Singh Surjewala, have been detained during the protests. The party has alleged that many of its leaders sustained injuries as the police manhandled them.
On Wednesday, Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Sagar Preet Hooda said that the Congress members have been told that they do not have permission to protest.
“Despite that they staged protests,” he said. “We have made adequate security arrangements.”
The police had detained 459 Congress members on Monday and 217 on Tuesday.
In a statement, the police said that prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is in effect in parts of Delhi since May 24, banning public meeting, processions and demonstrations.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot was detained on Wednesday in Delhi as he was going to the party office, reported NDTV.
“The police and government have made up their minds that no opposition leader can be allowed to do anything,” he told NDTV. “Using police to lathi charge workers inside our offices is unprecedented.”
He was referring to the allegations by Surjewala that the police had forcefully entered the party office on Tuesday and beaten up the workers.
“We are being stopped from entering our office,” Pilot said on Wednesday. “This tyrannical behaviour, I believe, is bad for democracy. I condemn it. We will continue to fight for justice.”
Gherao Raj Bhavans in all states: Congress
Surjewala on Wednesday said that party workers have been told to gherao all Raj Bhavans – official residence of governors – as they are a “reflection of the Narendra Modi government”. He said that the protests will also be held at district levels on Friday.
The Congress leader demanded that a first information report be registered against police officials who entered the party’s office and they be suspended and a disciplinary inquiry initiated against them, reported the Hindustan Times.
Surjewala and Venugopal also shared a video showing the police entering the party office.
“As they [the police] burst the doors open to the AICC HQ [All India Congress Committee headquarters] ,they trampled upon the democracy our forefathers fought and gave their lives for,” Venugopal wrote. “BJP has truly killed Indian democracy. It doesn’t get darker than this.”
The National Herald case
The National Herald is published by Associated Journals Limited and owned by Young Indian Private Limited. It was founded and edited by Jawaharlal Nehru before he became India’s first prime minister.
In April 2008, the paper suspended operations as it had incurred a debt of over Rs 90 crore. BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has accused Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi of setting up the Young Indian Private Limited firm to buy the debt using the funds from the Congress.
In his complaint before a trial court, Swamy accused the Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate the funds. He has alleged that the Young Indian firm paid only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that the Associated Journals Limited owed to the Congress.
The party had loaned the amount to Associated Journals Limited on an interest-free basis, according to court records. The Congress has claimed that there was no money exchange and only conversion of debt into equity took place to pay off dues like salaries.