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Land scam case: ED interrogation with Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren underway in Ranchi

The Enforcement Directorate has arrested 14 people in connection with the case, including Chhavi Ranjan, a 2011-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who had previously served as the director of the state social welfare department and deputy commissioner of Ranchi.

Edited By: Arushi Jaiswal @JaiswalArushi Ranchi Updated on: January 31, 2024 18:29 IST
Hemant Soren, ED
Image Source : PTI Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials arrive at the residence of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren

Land scam case: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren's questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials is still underway at his residence in Ranchi in connection with an alleged money laundering case. The interrogation completed five hours and it was still on. It was learnt that he was being interrogated by as many as 11 officials of the probe agency.

Following his visit to Delhi, the Chief Minister's whereabouts remained unclear for nearly 40 hours thereafter. Ending suspense over his whereabouts and intense political drama, Soren reached his official residence in Ranchi via road on Tuesday and chaired a meeting with alliance MLAs.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) workers gather at Morabadi ground near CM Hemant Soren's residence in Ranchi in protest against his questioning by ED.

Soren agrees to record statement 

In an email sent to the ED, Hemant Soren has agreed to record his statement on January 31 at 1 pm at his residence and alleged that the ED’s actions were "motivated by political agenda" to disrupt the state government's functioning and claimed that its insistence to record his statement again on or before January 31 "reeked of malice".

"Your insistence to record a further statement of the undersigned on or before 31 January 2024 reeks of malice and reveals your political agenda to disrupt the functioning of the State Government and prevent an elected representative of the people from discharging his official duties," Soren's letter to the ED said.

"The "acts are malafide and politically motivated (and) stand vindicated. The issuance of summon to the undersigned is wholly vexatious and in colourable exercise of powers given by the statute," the letter added.

ED seizes two luxury cars, huge cash, documents

The federal agency searched the 5/1 Shanti Niketan residence of the JMM leader in south Delhi on Monday, and camped there for almost 13 hours in order to question him in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land deal in Jharkhand, officials said. 

The federal agency searched the 5/1 Shanti Niketan residence of the JMM leader in south Delhi on Monday, and camped there for almost 13 hours in order to question him in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land deal in Jharkhand, officials said.  ED seized Rs 36 lakh cash, two luxury cars (reportedly BMWs), and some incriminating documents during the search operations.

ED recorded Soren's statement

The ED recorded Soren's statement for the first time in the case on January 20 after its investigators went to his official residence in Ranchi. The statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) during the nearly seven hours the investigators spent at his home.

On January 20, ED had interrogated CM Hemant Soren for about 7-8 hours. Still, the ED inquiry was not completed.  It has been learned that the fresh summons was issued as the questioning had not been completed that day. The central agency issued a fresh summons to him asking him to confirm his availability for questioning on either January 29 or January 31, the official sources said, adding Soren had sent a communication to the agency but had not confirmed the date and time for questioning.

What is the case?

The investigation pertains to a huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia in Jharkhand, according to the agency.

The matter is related to the purchase and sale of land occupied by the army. Army land was bought and sold in Jharkhand on the basis of a fake name and address. Ranchi Municipal Corporation had lodged an FIR in this regard. ED had started the investigation by registering the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) on the basis of the same FIR. 

Also Read: Jharkhand: Will Kaplana Soren take over as CM from husband Hemant?

Also Read: ED seizes two luxury cars, huge cash, documents from Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren's Delhi residence

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