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Delhi: ED Quizzes Rahul Gandhi for 3rd Day; 21 Hours of Questioning Already Done

PTI |
Government blocking political activities by not allowing entry into party HQ: Congress
RG

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday for the third consecutive day of questioning in the National Herald money laundering case.

Gandhi (51) arrived at the ED headquarters on APJ Abdul Kalam Road in central Delhi around 11.35 a.m with his "Z+" category CRPF security escort. He was accompanied by his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

He had left this office at 11:30 pm on Tuesday night after being questioned for over 11 hours.

A huge contingent of police and paramilitary personnel was deployed around the federal agency's office, and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is in force.

The Congress MP from Wayanad has already spent around 21 hours at the ED's office over the last two days where he was questioned over multiple sessions and his statement recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Officials said Gandhi's questioning could not be completed on Tuesday, and hence, he was asked to continue the recording of his statement on Wednesday.

About 15-16 questions about the incorporation of the Young Indian company, the operations of the National Herald newspaper, the loan given by the Congress to the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and the funds transfer within the news media establishment have been put to Gandhi during the questioning held till now, sources indicated.

Rahul Gandhi's mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who is currently admitted to a hospital here due to Covid-related issues, has also been summoned by the agency for questioning in the case on June 23.

The Congress has accused the Centre of targeting Opposition leaders by misusing investigative agencies.

Govt will face consequences: Congress

The Congress on Wednesday accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government of blocking political activities by preventing party workers from entering its headquarters, and said the ruling dispensation will have to face consequences.

Party's Chief Ministers Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel said this was the first time in the country's history that a national party's offices were put out of bounds of its own workers.

"The atmosphere in the country is in front of everyone to see. I could not bring my own staff inside the AICC office. No one else is allowed. Political activists cannot enter their party offices. This is happening for the first time in the country," Baghel said.

"They are trying to stop political activities of leaders. You can only suppress someone till a limit, and now, all limits have been crossed," he said.

Baghel's convoy was stopped by the Delhi Police on Tuesday from visiting the Badarpur police station, where some party leaders were under preventive detention for violating prohibitory orders in central Delhi.

The Chhattisgarh chief minister said the BJP's "nationalism is imported", under which "whosoever raised a voice against them is being crushed". He said Rahul Gandhi was being targeted for questioning the government on issues of governance and public concerns.

Reiterating the charge that the ED summons against the Gandhis were "political vendetta", Gehlot said these past eight years would be marked as the "black chapter in India's history".

He cautioned that the atmosphere in the country was "very dangerous", and recalled Gandhi's recent remarks made at a London event where he had said "kerosene had been poured all over India".

"No one knows what will happen tomorrow. There is a sense of fear in every alley, every home," Gehlot said, as he appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the nation and denounce violence.

"Party workers are stopped from entering our own office. Democracy is in danger, and the Constitution is being violated. The approach of RSS-BJP is very dangerous," he said.

On the National Herald case, Gehlot said Rs 90 crore was given in 100 installments to revive the newspaper, and there was no wrongdoing.

"The ED notices have been given only to harass and target the Gandhis. The government will have to face the consequences as people have understood everything," the Rajasthan chief minister said.

The Congress said it would later take a call on whether to meet the President and the prime minister to raise the ongoing "high-handedness" against its workers.

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