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Nagpur: Protests erupted across the country the day Congress chief Rahul Gandhi appeared in front of the ED office for questioning in connection with the National Herald money laundering case.

What is the National Herald money laundering case?

The National Herald newspaper was started back in 1938 by Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, and Rahul Gandhi’s great grandfather.

The newspaper was published by Associated Journals Limited (AJL), founded in 1937 with 5,000 other freedom fighters as its shareholders.

National Herald largely covered India’s freedom struggle and soon became one of the greatest nationalist newspapers in the country.

Nehru’s strongly-worded columns and fierce editorial style made the British ban and shut it in the year 1942. However, the newspaper was launched again three years later.

Nehru then, in 1947 took charge as the prime minister of India, leaving the newspaper board. Even after Nehru’s exit, the Congress party had a huge role to play in shaping the newspaper’s ideology. The paper soon became one of the leading English dailies with the finest of journalists being funded by the Congress party.

In 2008, the newspaper shut down its operations due to financial reasons and was relaunched in 2016 in the digital format.

Why are the Gandhis dragged into the matter?

In 2012, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had filed a case against the Gandhis, alleging that the Congress party took over AJL to acquire property assets worth Rs 2,000 crore.

When the newspaper was being shut down in 2008, the Congress party had an accumulated debt of over Rs 9,000 lakh. In 2010, a non-profit organization — Young Indian Limited was created and all debt was diverted to this organization.

The mother-son duo was on its board of directors and both own 38 percent each of the organization. The remaining 24 percent of the shares were owned by Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda.

Swamy had alleged in his plea that Young India acquired complete control over AJL and its real estate, situated in New Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai, and other cities.

In June 2014, the Metropolitan Court summoned all accused in the case, including the Gandhis. In 2015, Patiala House Court granted bail to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. They have been out on bail ever since.

In February 2016, the Supreme Court refused to quash proceedings against the accused. In May 2019, the ED attached National Herald properties worth Rs 16.38 crore. The ED once again summoned Gandhi in 2022.

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