Congress members on Thursday held protests in Delhi, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jammu and Chandigarh, a day after the Delhi Police allegedly baton-charged workers inside the party headquarters in the national capital, The Indian Express reported.
Since Monday, the Congress workers have held protests across the country against the questioning of party MP Rahul Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate in a money-laundering case related to the National Herald newspaper.
Several senior Congress leaders, including Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel, were detained after they took part in protests against the agency in Central Delhi on Monday.
On Tuesday, as Gandhi appeared before the agency for the second day of questioning, the Delhi Police imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, prohibiting the gathering of four or more persons in the areas around the Congress headquarters.
Despite this, several Congress leaders held protests at the party headquarters in Delhi. Party MPs KC Venugopal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Randeep Surjewala were detained.
As protests continued on Wednesday, Surjewala accused the Delhi Police of forcefully entering the party office and beating up workers. The police had detained 459 Congress members on Monday and 217 on Tuesday. By Wednesday, the number of detained Congress members rose to 800.
On Thursday, Congress MPs met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu and alleged that the party lawmakers, including women, had been “treated like terrorists” by the Delhi Police, PTI reported.
The delegations were led by Chowdhury and Mallikarjun Kharge. They handed over a storage device which comprised videos of the alleged harassment of Congress MPs.
Chowdhury said that the Enforcement Directorate and the central government should not indulge in politics of vendetta, PTI reported.
“Have you ever seen any political leader being questioned for so many days?” he asked. “But what crime have we done? We only wanted to stand in solidarity with our leader.”
Kharge alleged that the party lawmakers had been taken to police stations without informing the Lok Sabha speaker or the Rajya Sabha chairman, thus violating the norms, PTI reported.
“But their intent was to harass and mentally torture the MPs and our privilege has been violated,” Kharge said. “We wanted the chairman to take note of this and take action.”
In the national capital, the Congress held protests outside the lieutenant governor’s home on Thursday demanding action against police highhandedness, The Indian Express reported.
A delegation of top Congress leaders was later taken by the Delhi Police to meet the lieutenant governor, according to the newspaper.
The general secretaries of the All India Congress Committee also held a meeting to discuss the alleged harassment by the police.
Traffic was disrupted in Bengaluru on Thursday, after members of the Karnataka unit of Congress staged a protest, ANI reported.
Congress members set off on a march from the party office towards the Raj Bhavan to hand over a memorandum and complaint letter against the BJP.
However, the Bengaluru (East) deputy commissioner of police warned that the protestors will be taken into custody if they go ahead with the march.
“[Karnataka] High Court had earlier ordered that protests won’t be held anywhere except Freedom Park, and we conveyed it to them,” the deputy commissioner said. “They gave us in writing about the protest but we rejected it.”
Karnataka Congress Chief DK Shivakumar said that the party will continue to fight for justice, ANI reported.
“It [protest] is our right,” he said. “They [ED are not taking cases of any BJP leaders, they are harassing only Congress people.”
Shivakumar and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah were later detained by the police.
In Rajasthan’s Jaipur, Congress members held a sit-in protest near the Raj Bhavan, ANI reported.
“They want to suppress Rahul Gandhi’s voice...Can’t scare Indira Gandhi’s grandson with lathis,” Rajasthan Cabinet Minister P Khachariyawas said. “Congress will be reason behind BJP’s end.”
In Hyderabad, the protests turned violent as the agitators tried to stop the traffic and set a vehicle on fire, reported ANI.