Right from 10, Janpath to Patiala House Courts, the Delhi Police had made elaborate security arrangements to escort Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice president Rahul Gandhi and other VVIPs who were to appear in the National Herald case Saturday.
Sources said security agencies were strictly directed to ensure hassle-free movement of the VVIPs so that they arrived on time for the hearing at 3 pm.
At least 30 companies (1,800 personnel) of the Delhi Police and six companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were deployed since morning outside Sonia Gandhi’s residence, the Congress headquarters at 24, Akbar Road and the court, located at the India Gate outer circle. The Special Protection Group (SPG), which looks after VVIP security, had held several meetings with the police to chalk out a plan to safely escort the Gandhis and other leaders.
Anticipating protests by Congress workers, police had stationed their staff outside the residence of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh as well. Traffic along roads leading to the AICC office were restricted till evening. The office was also barricaded at the entry to Akbar Road on both sides.
From 10 am, party leaders started to gather at the AICC headquarters to express solidarity with the Gandhis. By 3 pm, MPs and ex-MPs had reached the office. More than a 100 supporters from Sonia and Rahul’s parliamentary constituencies also arrived to support their leaders. Meanwhile, members of the Youth Congress and the women’s wing raised slogans against the central government.
Dharmesh Singh (21), who came from Amethi, said, “We come here in support of our party leader. We will fight for them…”
Congress supporter Ramesh Dutta came with at least 30 others, carrying placards and banners with photographs of Rahul, Sonia, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. “The BJP government has started a bad trend by implicating our leaders like this. We support Sonia ji and Rahul ji,” he said.
A section of supporters, carrying a handheld music system, played patriotic songs outside the headquarters. Senior party leaders including Renuka Chaudhary, Ambika Soni, Rashid Alvi, Kamal Nath among others were seen talking to the media outside the office.
Police sources said special escort vehicles were provided to the leaders who had signed surety bonds for the seven accused.
Apart from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Priyanka Gandhi, the other leaders gathered at a flat belonging to a party leader in South Avenue. They left for the court in their official vehicles, escorted by police.
They were assigned the same convoy and their routes were decided in advance.