A DAY after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) initiated a search operation at Herald House in Delhi in connection with a money laundering probe, the agency on Wednesday sealed an office in the building of Young Indian — a firm linked to the Gandhi family, which had acquired Associated Journals Limited, the publisher of National Herald newspaper.
Sources in the ED said the office was sealed temporarily because the search could not take place on Tuesday in the absence of a representative of the firm.
“The principal officer Mallikarjun Kharge (Congress leader) came yesterday but left the premises without getting the searches conducted. Summons have been sent to the principal officer (Kharge) to get the search concluded. As and when the authorised person presents himself for concluding the search, the seal will be lifted,” an ED officer told The Indian Express.
The Delhi Police, meanwhile, increased deployment of personnel outside the Congress headquarters at 24, Akbar Road. The Congress, however, claimed that police had surrounded the residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi at 10, Janpath, and that of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi at 12, Tughlaq Lane — both in central Delhi.
The Congress hit out at the Government and linked the sealing of Young Indian’s office and the increased deployment of police outside the AICC headquarters to protests planned by the party on Friday on price rise, unemployment and hike in GST rates on essential commodities.
“The Congress is under siege. Delhi Police have surrounded our headquarters and homes of Congress president and ex-president. 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 the Modi Sarkar,” AICC general secretary in charge of communication, Jairam Ramesh, said.
Addressing a press conference, along with Ramesh and Abhishek Singhvi at the AICC headquarters, Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said the party has received a letter from the Delhi Police denying permission for a demonstration and march to the Prime Minister’s residence and Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday.
“The AICC had issued a circular last week announcing our plan to hold a nationwide demonstration on August 5 on the issue of price rise, unemployment and hike in GST rates on food items. According to the plan…MPs were to march to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Congress leaders were to stage a demonstration outside the residence of the Prime Minister… Today, we received a letter from the DCP saying we cannot stage any demonstration on August 5,” Maken said.
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“We receive the letter during the day and by evening the police have turned the AICC into a fortress. We want to tell the Government that the Congress will not be intimidated by such pressure tactics,” he said.
Singhvi said, “We are seeing an open-ended investigation…with a siege mentality in the heart of the capital of the world’s largest democracy. I was astonished to see that people cannot come and go…there are platoons everywhere…the sole object of this exercise is humiliation, insult and intimidation at one level, and diversion, digression and sensationalism at the other.”
“They want price rise not to be in the headlines. After 50 hours of questioning of Rahul Gandhi and after days of questioning of the Congress president — more than 200 questions put together — today you have created… a climate of fear. The entire country watches as investigative agencies are deployed mindlessly against the leadership of India’s oldest political party. You are treating this institution, this party, these leaders as terrorists,” he said.