ED summons Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren in money laundering case

Soren likely to be questioned in an alleged defence land scam case


The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren for interrogation in a money laundering case, an official said here on Tuesday.

He has been asked to depose on August 14 at the federal agency's office here and record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the official said.

He is expected to be questioned in an alleged defence land scam case.

The 47-year-old Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader was interrogated for over nine hours by the ED in November last year in another money laundering case linked to alleged illegal mining in the state.

Neither Soren nor his office has reacted to the fresh summons.

BJP MP from the state Deepak Prakash Tuesday demanded Soren's resignation alleging that he was involved in the defence land scam in connivance with corrupt bureaucrats of the state.

Claiming to have been the first to have exposed the defence land scam, he said "We had requested the ED to investigate the case. Today, the result is that after the illegal mining case, the Jharkhand chief minister has been summoned by ED in connection with money laundering with respect to land held by the Army and others.

The central probe agency is investigating more than a dozen land deals, including one related to defence land, wherein a group of land mafia, middlemen and bureaucrats allegedly connived to forge deeds and documents of as long back as 1932.

A special PMLA court has already sent Jharkhand IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan, arrested by ED to jail.

The ED interrogated Ranjan for around 10 hours on April 24 in connection with its probe into money laundering in the alleged illegal land deals.

Ranjan was briefly questioned by the agency on April 13 as well when searches were carried out at his premises and those of some others in Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.

The ED arrested several people, including a Jharkhand government officer, after the raids.

On November 17, 2022 the ED had questioned Soren for over nine hours in connection with its investigation into an alleged illegal mining case.

Soren had then claimed he was a "victim of conspiracy" by the opposition BJP in the state. He has been accusing the opposition of hatching a conspiracy to topple his government ever since the JMM came to power.

"The central agency should level allegations only after a detailed investigation into the matter ... I am the chief minister of the state and hold a constitutional post. But the way the summons were issued, it seems I will flee from the country," he had said.

Soren was initially summoned by the ED on November 3, 2022 but he did not appear citing official engagements. He had even dared the central probe agency to arrest him and then sought a three-week deferment of the summons.

The agency has so far arrested Soren's political aide Pankaj Mishra and two others in the case.

The BJP had also petitioned for Soren's disqualification from the assembly in an office-of-profit case in August 2022. The UPA constituents supporting Soren had in a joint statement on August 28 that year accused the then governor Ramesh Bias of encouraging political horse-trading.

On August 30 the coalition had shifted its MLAs to Raipur in Chhatisgarh by a chartered flight in a bid to thwart the BJP's possible attempt to poach ruling legislators. They flew back to Ranchi on September 4 to attend a special session of Jharkhand assembly on September 5 in which Soren won a confidence motion. 

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