The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday sealed the premises of Young Indian Private Limited situated in the Herald House building in New Delhi, people familiar with the situation told Scroll.in.
The development came a day after the central agency carried out searches at a dozen locations linked to the Congress-linked National Herald newspaper, including its main office in the national capital.
The National Herald is published by Associated Journals Limited and owned by Young Indian Private Limited. The newspaper is under investigation in an alleged money laundering case.
Meanwhile, additional force was deployed outside the Congress headquarters and the home of party chief Sonia Gandhi, according to ANI.
Several senior Congress leaders such as Mallikarjun Kharge, Salman Khurshid, Digvijaya Singh, P Chidambaram also reached the party headquarters on Wednesday.
Party MP Jairam Ramesh wrote in a tweet that the Congress was “under siege”.
“Delhi police has surrounded our HQs [headquarters], and homes of INC [Indian National Congress] President & ex-President,” he wrote. “This is the worst form of vendetta politics. We will not submit! We will not be silenced! We will continue to raise our voice against injustices and failures of Modi Sarkar!”
Meanwhile, the National Herald newspaper denied media reports claiming that its office had been sealed. News agency ANI, which had earlier reported so, issued a clarification later saying that only the premises of Young Indian Private Limited had been sealed.
“There are a few false media reports that the National Herald office has been sealed,” the newspaper said in a tweet. “We are functioning as usual.”
On Tuesday, the Enforcement Directorate had said that the raids were conducted under the sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to gather additional evidence with regard to the trail of funds.
Some officials had told PTI that the searches were being conducted after fresh evidence was obtained by the agency after questioning “various people” related to the case.
In July, the central investigative agency had questioned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for three days in the connection with the case. Her son and former party chief Rahul Gandhi was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate for 50 hours over five days in June.
The case against Gandhis
The National Herald 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 Associate 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.