The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday temporarily sealed the office of Young Indian (YI) company on the premises of Congress-owned newspaper National Herald in Delhi as part of an ongoing money laundering investigation, official sources said.
In Parliament, Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress member Kharge stood up and said the residences of his party president Sonia Gandhi and former president Rahul Gandhi have been “surrounded by the Delhi Police”.
The road to All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters here was blocked Wednesday with the Congress alleging such actions have become a norm rather than an exception while the police said barricades have been erected and its personnel deputed to avoid any untoward situation.
The seal was put in order to “preserve the evidence” which could not be collected as authorised representatives of YI were not present during the raids that were launched on Tuesday, they said.
The rest of the National Herald office is open for use, the sources added. A notice affixed under the signature of the ED investigating officer outside the YI office space said it cannot be opened “without prior permission” from the agency.
Officials said the ED team had emailed the summons to the principal officer/in-charge of YI, which is senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, seeking their attendance to open the cabins for it to carry out raids but they have not received any response, so far.
Kharge, the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, had visited the Herald House building on Tuesday evening along with party colleague Pawan Bansal but he left and the search could not be conducted, they said.
As and when the authorised person (for YI) presents themselves for concluding the search, the seal will be lifted, officials said.
The ED had on Tuesday raided a dozen locations, including the National Herald newspaper and web portal office in Herald House at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg near ITO as part of its money laundering probe in the National Herald-AJL-Young Indian deal.
The agency sleuths left the premises in the wee hours of Wednesday after they collected some documents, digital data and questioned some staffers.
On Twitter, National Herald said it was functioning as usual and asked the media to “correct the erroneous reports”.
“There are a few false media reports that the National Herald office has been sealed. We are functioning as usual. This is a broadcast request to the media to correct the erroneous reports,” it wrote.
There are a few false media reports that the National Herald office has been sealed.
We are functioning as usual.
This is a broadcast request to media to correct the erroneous reports.
— National Herald (@NH_India) August 3, 2022
Meanwhile, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the party’s headquarters is surrounded by Delhi Police and accused the Modi government of vendetta politics.
“@INCIndia is under siege. Delhi police has surrounded our HQs, and homes of INC President & 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 Modi Sarkar!” he tweeted.
.@INCIndia is under siege. Delhi police has surrounded our HQs, and homes of INC President & 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 Modi Sarkar!
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) August 3, 2022
(With inputs from Agencies)