As Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the alleged National Herald money laundering case, clashes broke out between Delhi Police and party leaders in New Delhi and other parts of Delhi. Several Congress leaders, including Indian Youth Congress President Srinivas BV, were allegedly manhandled by police on Akbar Road and Vijay Chowk.
A video of the incident shows a group of policemen pushing and shoving Srinivas in a police car while pulling his hair. Srinivas tries to resist the attack but is pushed into the car and detained.
The Delhi Police said the protesters were “warned” about the illegal gathering but the Congress leaders continued protesting. An enquiry has been initiated by police against the personnel who allegedly assaulted Srinivas and other leaders. Police said 259 persons, including 57 MPs, were detained. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi was also detained and released at 7 pm. The protesters were planning to march from the Parliament House to the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
DCP (New Delhi) Amrutha Guguloth said police have taken cognizance of the matter after the video was circulated on social media. “The personnel involved will be identified and disciplinary action will be taken against them,” she said.
Delhi Police had increased deployment in the area and also deployed paramilitary personnel to maintain law and order. Within 15-20 minutes of the protest, all protesters were detained. Rahul Gandhi even staged a sit-in protest but was detained. Visuals from the spot also show women leaders being picked up and forced into buses.
Congress leaders Tuesday claimed they were assaulted, dragged and detained for “simply protesting”.
“Look at this dictatorship, one cannot hold peaceful demonstrations, can’t discuss inflation and unemployment. You can’t silence us by arresting us or misusing the agencies such as the police… Only ‘truth’ will end this dictatorship,” said Rahul Gandhi in a tweet when he was being detained.
Senior police officers said CrPC section 144 had been imposed in the New Delhi area for months and no gathering was allowed. Police had also sent a letter to the AICC organiser to prevent the gathering but party members allegedly came out of the AICC office and started a rally around 11 am.