The Delhi Police on Wednesday afternoon stopped leaders of 16 Opposition parties from marching to the Enforcement Directorate office to demand an investigation into allegations of stock manipulation against the Adani Group.

After House proceedings were adjourned amid ruckus on Wednesday morning, the Opposition leaders started marching from Parliament on Delhi’s Sansad Marg to the central agency’s office located nearly two kilometres away on APJ Abdul Kalam Road. However, the police did not allow the march to go beyond Vijay Chowk – only about half a kilometre from Parliament.

The police put up barricades in the area saying that restrictions have been imposed on gathering under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that bans gathering of four or more persons, PTI reported. The Opposition leaders returned to the Parliament complex after being stopped.

“Opposition MPs of nearly 18 parties want to give a memorandum to the Enforcement Directorate on the Adani issue, but the government is not allowing us to march forward and the police have stopped us at Vijay Chowk,” Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters. “We want to present our case to ED for a detailed investigation on the Adani issue and we will keep trying to march forward.”

The Opposition leaders have e-mailed a letter to the Enforcement Directorate demanding an investigation into the allegations against the Adani Group.

The letter noted that “several crucial pieces of evidence” against the Adani Group have emerged in the public domain over the last three months.

“Yet, the Enforcement Directorate, which claims to pursue such cases with vigour and fairness, is yet to launch even a preliminary enquiry into these very serious charges,” the letter stated. “As a result, we are constrained to file this official complaint so that the ED is compelled to investigate a relationship that has serious implications not just for our economy but most importantly, our democracy.”

The Adani Group has been steeped in a controversy since United States-based investment firm Hindenburg Research released a report on January 24, alleging that the conglomerate has amassed substantial debt by pledging overvalued shares.

Since then, listed firms of the Adani Group have lost a total of nearly $145 billion in market capitalisation. While the conglomerate has rejected the allegations, its responses have failed to halt the stock market bloodbath.

Opposition parties have been demanding an investigation into the allegations by a joint parliamentary committee.

On March 2, the Supreme Court had set up an expert panel to examine the mechanisms in place to protect investor interests. The court had also directed markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India to conclude an investigation into the matter within two months and submit a status report.

In their letter to the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday, the Opposition parties urged the Enforcement Directorate to take action, noting that the court-appointed panel only has a limited scope to look into the matter.

“We are acutely aware of how in the recent past, the ED has also zealously pursued cases of alleged political favouritism, including sharing concurrent jurisdiction with SEBI and CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation],” the letter stated. “We are also aware of the limited remit of the Supreme Court Commission appointed on the subject. We point this out so as to remind the ED that it cannot turn around and abdicate its jurisdiction on these or other grounds.”