The Delhi Police on March 19 served a fresh notice to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at his residence, over his remarks during the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir that “women are still being sexually assaulted”.
Special Commissioner of Police, Sagar Preet Hooda, who led a team of officers to Mr. Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi, said that information about the “victims” he referred to in his remarks was sought from him. The police team arrived at Mr. Gandhi’s residence at about 10 a.m. but could meet him only after two hours.
“We met Mr. Gandhi at his residence and spoke to him briefly about his remarks. He said he would provide us with the information once he has compiled it since it was a long yatra and he had met several people. He has assured us to give the information as soon as possible,” Mr. Hooda said.
The Hindu has learnt that Mr. Gandhi, after consulting his lawyers shortly after the visit, sent a four-page preliminary response to the police, seeking time of eight to 10 days to share the information and also questioning the urgency on the matter after 45 days.
Congress leader and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was present at Mr. Gandhi’s residence during the police visit, is learnt to have advised the former Congress president on his response.
The matter pertains to Mr. Gandhi’s statements towards the end of his yatra in Srinagar on January 30 where he said that he had met a number of people who told him that “women are still being sexually assaulted”. According to Mr. Hooda, since the yatra passed through Delhi and Mr. Gandhi also lives here, the police is conducting an inquiry if the Congress leader met any such persons in the city.
The Special CP said that this was the third time a police team visited Mr. Gandhi’s residence with regards to the matter and was able to meet him on Sunday. The police had served Mr. Gandhi a notice on March 16.
Meanwhile, several Congress leaders slammed the BJP-led Central Government for “misusing the security agencies to intimidate and harass Opposition leaders”.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that Mr. Gandhi was being “questioned by the police to divert the public attention from the Adani issue and to save the industrialist”.
“Sending Delhi Police to Rahul Gandhi’s residence for questioning 45 days after the Bharat Jodo Yatra is another cowardly act of the dictatorial government!” Mr. Kharge tweeted.
The Congress said in a tweet, “[The] Bharat Jodo Yatra and Rahul Gandhi ji gave women a safe platform to share their problems and pains. This shameful act of Delhi Police proves that PM Modi is nervous about our questions on Adani case. Our courage has been strengthened by such antics, we will continue to take answers.”
Mr. Hooda, however, said that the police had started a preliminary inquiry on their end as soon as Mr. Gandhi made the remarks. “We tried to find out if any woman from Delhi had complained about sexual assault to him [Mr. Gandhi] but could not find any victim,” the police officer said, adding that after Mr. Gandhi was only contacted after the initial inquiry.
Mr. Hooda said that any further inquiry will be done based on the information Mr. Gandhi provides. “We have requested him to provide the details soon so that we could probe the cases and give justice to the victims,” he said.
Hitting back at the Congress, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “If a woman was raped and Rahul Gandhi had claimed so in front of the nation as an MP, then the police have all the right to gather more information about this case.”
Mr. Patra also slammed Mr. Gandhi for “not responding” to the previous police notice in the matter.