Congress relaunched National Herald news ops after agencies began probe: ED | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Congress relaunched National Herald news ops after agencies began probe: ED

ByNeeraj Chauhan, New Delhi
Jan 07, 2024 08:15 AM IST

Established in 1937 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, AJL published the National Herald, Qaumi Awaz in Urdu and Navjeevan in Hindi.

The Congress-run Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which got land in various cities at concessional rates to run the National Herald but closed the newspaper in 2008, relaunched its news operations around 2016 “just to show that it is still engaged in publishing of newspapers” after investigation was started into company’s affairs by various agencies, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has claimed.

ED has alleged that the company relaunched its news operations through a digital platform “just to show that it is still engaged in publishing of newspapers”.
ED has alleged that the company relaunched its news operations through a digital platform “just to show that it is still engaged in publishing of newspapers”.

Established in 1937 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, AJL published the National Herald, Qaumi Awaz in Urdu and Navjeevan in Hindi.

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It was given land in various cities of India for the purpose of publishing newspapers. But it closed operations in 2008 and offered voluntary retirement to all the employees, which was accepted by them; by then, the debt on its books had risen to 90 crore. It was taken over in 2010 by Young Indian (YI), a company in which Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi together hold 76%.

The Congress announced in 2016 that it would relaunch the news operations.

Also Read | National Herald case: ED identifies total proceeds of crime worth 988 crore

“Around 2016, after investigation was initiated by various government agencies, the company relaunched its news operations through a digital platform just to show that it is still engaged in publishing of newspapers,” ED has said in its attachment order of November 11, pertaining to assets worth 751 crore of AJL.

Citing the ED order, an officer of the agency said it shows that there was a nexus of AJL, YI and AICC, the central decision-making body of Congress party, and that “the three entities ... operated through common office bearers namely (deceased) Moti Lal Vohra and (deceased) Oscar Fernandes and structures were created in a predetermined manner to acquire the properties of AJL by YI...”.

The three entities are “related entities having common office bearers and history of long association”, a second officer at the agency said on condition of anonymity, also citing the attachment order.

The federal agency has alleged that the 50 lakh transaction by YI to buy out the 90 crore loan of AJL (converted into qeuity) from AICC was a “sham transaction”.

The officials cited above said their investigation in the National Herald case is continuing.

HT reached out to the Congress for a response on the matter but didn’t get it till the time of going to press.

The Congress, however, has repeatedly said that the transaction was done to help save the newspaper and pay the salaries of journalists and staff at a time when AJL faced huge debts. It has argued that the decision helped revive the organisation and blames the central government of raking up an old issue to target the Gandhi family for political vendetta.

In a detailed statement on November 21, Congress leader Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) action can only be consequential to some predicate or main offence. There is no transfer of any immovable property. There is no movement of money. There are no proceeds of crime. Indeed, there is no complainant who claims to have been cheated: not a single one. This is a prefabricated structure of deceit, lies and falsehood of, by and for the BJP to divert, distract and digress in the middle of elections.”

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