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Laws that get vigorous only against some

Laws that get vigorous only against some

'National Herald' is a newspaper that had been shutdown due to liabilities even before its owner, the Congress Party had a downward slide. When it closed shop in 2008, little was left of its glory as a newspaper established by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938 or its standing as the organ of the Congress. Not only was the Rs 90 crore loan that the Congress gave it as a rescue package to revive 'National Herald' or the structural reforms of any avail in its resuscitation, they have now paved the way for the Central government to enter the scene with financial witch-hunting. The Income Tax Department, which took up the case filed by the extreme sangh parivar champion Subramanian Swamy, has been investigating for the last eight years a money laundering allegation that the firm Young Indian Private Limited, of which Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi are directors, took over the liabilities and shares of the paper's publishers Associated Journal Limited (AJL). The Enforcement Directorate's latest summons asking Sonia and Rahul to appear in person is only the latest episode in this series. The investigation that started in 2014 the year Modi took over the reign of power has kept raising its head at all junctures of political crisis and pushing the Congress to the defensive. And it is likely to keep coming up until the parliament election of 2024 is over.

By now it is largely accepted that the Centre is misusing ED to blackmail non-BJP goverments and parties. The cases taken up by ED and the track traversed by its methods of investigation give room for serious concern and suspicions. It has become routine for ED's probe teams to gate-crash into locations of political leaders, and political and community voluntary organisations who raise their voice against the government or the ruling party, and seach the premises. Almost all opposition parties, the Trinamool Congress, NCP, SP and RJD have become victims of ED hunting. During the Modi regime, the ED teams have entered without let or hindrance and wielding the rod of authority the houses of mainstream political leaders of Jammu-Kashmir, not to speak of the offices of human rights organisations, of the media – which are the medium to deliver the ruling agenda to the people - and the premises of industrialists out of favour of the Centre. The aim and effect of such raids are nothing but bringing to a halt their freedom to function. And not stopping with that, the investigating agencies have also taken care to demonise the victims by circulating misleading news about them and projecting an image about them of offenders in the public.

The nature of investigations chosen by Enforcement Directorate keeps telling us that the country is on the brink of a dangerous trend where the government machinery and laws are consistently active against certain sections. To be read together with the ED's financial crackdowns is the approach of the Central government itself that result in denying freedom to operate and make financial transactions related to the work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which strive for the struggle to secure civil rights, with schemes for empowerment of the marginalised and aiming at socio-educational uplift of minorities. The ED officials that get to the stage of freezing the accounts of National Herald, Amnesty International, Harsh Mander and Teesta Setalvad, the Rehab India Foundation - which does voluntary services and is associated with Popular Front of India – do not vouch for any well-intentioned action model of the Centre, but only for the fact that the country is now witnessing laws that selectively go after only a class of targets.

If justice were delivered fairly in the country, 28 individuals who broke the law's net with surprising ease would not have smuggled out billions of rupees out of the country during the same rule when hawk-eyed law enforcement go after individuals and organisations loathed by the Centre and sangh parivar outfits. Then, we would not have had to read repeatedly about companies like the Gujarat-based ABG Shipyard which swindled 28 banks of over Rs 22,842 Crore. In the same period, Amnesty's chief in India Aakar Patel was caught on the charge of using amounts below 10,000 dollars out of foreign funds for personal purposes, and journalist Rana Ayyub had to encounter the brand of law enforcement that allows interception at airports. If law enforcement were fair, laws would not have remained toothless and quaking before arch-fraudsters from Nirav Modi to ABG Shipyard owner Rishi Agarwal. The name in history for dangerous and horrifying times when laws and government machinery get functional only among some is: fascist era.

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TAGS:ED questioning Sonia and Rahul National Herals and AJL selective investigations against some anti-govt entities targeted 
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