Bengaluru:  Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar, 57, returned to a rousing welcome at the city airport on Saturday, nearly two months after he flew to Delhi on being summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case, a party official said.

Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Janata Dal-Secular leader H.D. Kumaraswamy and Congress leaders from Kanakapura, his home constituency, were present at the airport.

“About 500 supporters, including state Congress leaders, greeted him at the airport and accompanied him in a convoy to the party office. There he was accorded a hero’s welcome,” party spokesman Ravi Gowda told IANS.

Shivakumar was released from Tihar Jail after 50 days on Thursday on a conditional bail, granted by the Delhi High Court. He was in custody in connection with a case under the Prevention Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002, filed on a complaint by the Income-Tax Department, which had seized Rs 8.6 crore cash from his flat in New Delhi in August 2017.

“The central government misused law enforcing agencies, like the ED, the I-T Department and the Central Bureau of Investigation to harass our senior leader Shivakumar,” said state Congress chief Dinesh Gundurao.

The Karnataka High Court on August 29 rejected Shivakumar’s plea for interim protection against arrest in a ‘hawala’ case.

The alleged money laundering came to light after raids by the tax sleuths his premises in Bengaluru, Kanakapura and New Delhi on August 2, 2017.

Cases were filed against him and four others under sections 277 and 278 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, and sections 120(B), 193 and 199 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Shivakumar was a Cabinet Minister in the previous JD-S-Congress coalition government (May 2018-July 2019) and Energy Minister in the Congress government (2013-2018).