Rahul Gandhi Returns To ED Office For 2nd Round Of Questioning, Congress Workers Stage Protests | Updates

Congress leaders took to the streets in several parts of the country on Monday as former party president Rahul Gandhi appeared before the ED for questioning in a money laundering case.

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday in a money laundering probe related to the National Herald newspaper as Congress workers staged protests across several states. Rahul Gandhi was allowed by the ED to leave for lunch around 2:10 pm and he returned for the questioning around 3:30 pm.

The 51-year-old politician had entered the headquarters of the central probe agency at around 11 am after starting from the Congress office on Akbar Road. He was accompanied by a large convoy of party leaders including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel.

According to news agency ANI, he is being questioned by an Assistant Director level officer-- the investigating Officer of the case-- being supervised by a Deputy Director and a Joint Director.

ALSO READ | 'Political Vendetta': Congress Protests In Several Cities As Rahul Gandhi Appears Before ED | IN PICS

Congress Workers Protest Across The Country

Prominent Congress leaders, as well as party workers, took out protest marches in several cities in support of Rahul Gandhi and their party chief Sonia Gandhi as both have been summoned by ED for questioning in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald-Associated Journals Ltd deal.

Eminent Congress leaders detained in Delhi today included Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala, KC Venugopal, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Earlier in the day, the party's MPs and workers assembled at the AICC headquarters where Surjewala announced they would march peacefully towards the ED office, and if they are stopped, they would face arrest.

Congress workers began to march towards the ED office, raising slogans in support of Rahul Gandhi, but were stopped by the police which had put up barricades all around the AICC office.

A large number of workers were taken into preventive custody for violating the provisions of Section 144 CrPC banning assembly of more than four persons, which was imposed in central Delhi.

The Maharashtra Congress staged protests outside the Enforcement Directorate's office in Mumbai and other parts of the state over the summons issued by the probe agency to party leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

Highlighting the Nehru-Gandhi family's contribution to the country, Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole said, "Targeting this family and tarnishing its image by calling them before the ED office...not only Congressmen, but even the common man stands behind the Gandhi family," PTI reported.

Congress leaders and workers in Nagpur also marched to the ED's office Seminary Hills area, staging a demonstration to express solidarity with Rahul Gandhi.

The party legislators and workers in other parts of Vidarbha also staged protests.

A protest march against the ED notices to Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi was also seen in Jaipur. 

The march from the party's state headquarters to the ED office near Ambedkar Circle was led by Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president Govind Singh Dotasra and attended by party leaders, PTI reported.

Govind Dotasara alleged that the Modi government was resorting to such tactics to divert the attention of the people from issues such as unemployment and inflation.

"There is anger among the people of the entire country and the countdown for the Modi government has started," he said.

Congress workers in Dehradun gheraoed the ED office there and sat on a dharna to protest against the ED summons, terming them as the Centre's "misuse" of the agency to intimidate opposition leaders.

"Howsoever hard, the Centre may try but such measures can never succeed in intimidating Congress workers," PCC president Karan Mahra said, terming it as a "harassment" of the Congress leader.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president GA Mir was detained Monday with several other party workers after they staged a sit-in and tried to take out a protest march. As per PTI, hundreds of Congress workers led by Mir assembled outside party headquarters at Shaheedi Chowk in the heart of Jammu city and staged a sit-in before starting a march which was foiled by the police by barricading the main Residency Road.

Officials said that the protesters tried to break the police cordon and personnel swung into action. The detained protesters were taken to police lines in Gandhi Nagar in two buses.

Karnataka Congress too staged a protest in Bengaluru, led by state party president DK Shivakumar and Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah. KPCC president DK Shivakumar tweeted, "When you can't match them, you try to pull them down. That's exactly what BJP Govt is doing. Congress Party has never bowed down to tyranny and vengeance, and we will fight against it even now."

PTI quoted Siddaramaiah as saying that "by issuing summons to Sonia and (Rahul) Gandhi, an attempt is being made to lessen their charisma... we will not allow undemocratic things to happen in this country. BJP is indulging in vendetta politics, they have reopened the case that was shut in 2015."

The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) took out a rally in support of Rahul Gandhi as the Congress leader was scheduled to appear in the National Herald case before the Enforcement Directorate in New Delhi.

TPCC president Revanth Reddy said the party was protesting against the Modi government levying illegal cases against the Gandhi family. The protestors took “Satyameva Jayate” slogans as the rally moved towards the Enforcement Directorate in Hyderabad.

Protests were also witnessed in Guwahati, Bikaner, and Patna among other cities.

National Herald Case

In its questioning of Rahul Gandhi, the ED seeks to find out answers to alleged financial irregularities in the Congress party-promoted Young Indian Pvt Limited (YIL) which owns the National Herald newspaper.

As per ANI, from the shareholding pattern to the transfer of Associated Journals Limited's (AJL) assets into YIL and various other unanswered questions are yet to be answered in the case.

The ED is also investigating the financial transactions as well as the role of party functionaries in the functioning of AJL and YIL. 

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