Congress leaders take to streets as Sonia Gandhi is questioned by ED in National Herald case

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accompanies party Interim President Sonia Gandhi as the latter leaves her residence for the ED office to appear before it for questioning in the National Herald Case, in New Delhi on Thursday. (ANI Photo)

Enforcement Directorate says it kept two doctors and an ambulance on standby as a humanitarian gesture toward Congress leader who recently had Covid infection

Our Bureau
New Delhi/Chandigarh/Jaipur   

Delhi Police on Thursday detained 349 Congress functionaries including 56 MPs after the leaders protested in the capital over ED summons to the Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi. Senior Congress leaders including P Chidambaram, Ajay Maken, Manickam Tagore, KC Venugopal, Adhir Ranjan Chaudhry, Shashi Tharoor, Sachin Pilot, Harish Rawat, Ashok Gehlot, K Suresh were among those detained.

Seventy-five Congress MPs including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and several workers were detained by the Delhi Police for demonstrations against the questioning of the party chief.

Congress workers in Nagpur were also detained in the wake of the protest. The protest by the Congress turned violent in Bengaluru as the Youth Congress workers allegedly set a car on fire, in front of ED office. Congress workers also stopped a train and blocked railway tracks at New Delhi’s Shivaji Bridge railway station.

Chandigarh Police also used water cannons to disperse Congress workers and leaders as they protested over the questioning.

Party leader Jairam Ramesh said party MPs and CWC Members have courted mass arrest outside the party’s central office in a show of collective solidarity with Sonia Gandhi. Congress leaders accused the government of misusing the probe agencies to target political opponents. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who is also in Delhi, slammed the probe and said that since Sonia Gandhi is over 70 years old, ED should have gone to her residence if they wanted to question her. “It is happening for the first time in the country that they are stopping dharna, demonstration,” he said.

But the Enforcement Directorate, which questioned Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald case on Thursday, kept two doctors and an ambulance on standby as a humanitarian gesture, agency sources said. The central agency also allowed Sonia Gandhi’s daughter and party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at its office. The sources said that Sonia Gandhi was asked over two dozen questions “after which she asked to go home for her medication”.

They said ED allowed this and it will call her for interrogation again on Monday.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the allegations that ED stopped investigation as Sonia Gandhi requested to leave because she is suffering from COVID-19 “are baseless”.

“Interrogation ended because ED didn’t have anything to ask. Sonia Gandhi said, she’ll be present at ED office whenever they want,” he said.

Jairam Ramesh said Sonia Gandhi went to ED office and was interrogated for two-three hours “after which ED officials allowed her to leave as they didn’t have anything else to ask”.

“On this, Congress president replied that they can ask her as many questions as they want,” he said. ED sources countered the remarks of the Congress leader. “Looking at the health of Sonia Gandhi as a humanitarian gesture, two doctors and an ambulance were kept on standby and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was also allowed to be at the office of the ED,” a top ED source said.

“Even during her questioning which was for close to two-and-a-half hours, on two occasions her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was allowed to meet her. After asking her more than 12 questions once she said she would like to go home for medication, the agency allowed her to go home and in fact agreed to question her again on Monday,” the source added.

Last month the ED questioned Rahul Gandhi for five days in the case. The ED had on June 1 summoned Sonia Gandhi to appear on June 8 in the case for the first time in connection with alleged money laundering in the National Herald case.

Sonia Gandhi could not appear for questioning after testing positive for COVID-19.

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