Updated, Jan. 29, 2024. 8.59 PM.
A team of Enforcement Directorate today visited the residence of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren in New Delhi in connection with a money laundering case. Sources however said, Mr Soren was not present in the House. The Agency had issued the summon to him last week asking him to confirm his availability for questioning between 29th to 31st of this month. Sources added that Mr Soren has told the Agency that he will be available for questioning on 31st of January.
Soren’s unanticipated visit to the national capital on Saturday night sparked speculations regarding its purpose.
This development coincided with the ED asking Soren to make himself available for questioning on either January 29 or January 31.
“The visit was not planned. The sudden plan was made after the issuance of a fresh summons by the ED. He has his scheduled events lined up, including a programme in Chaibasa on January 29, in Palamu on January 30, and in Giridih on January 31,” explained an anonymous official, as quoted by PTI.
While a source indicated that Soren went to Delhi for legal consultations, this information could not be verified by the Chief Minister’s Office.
The ED had previously recorded the chief minister’s statement on January 20 at his official residence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The issuance of fresh summons suggests that the questioning was not completed on that day.
The investigation revolves around an alleged “huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia” in Jharkhand, according to the agency.
In connection with this case, the ED has already arrested 14 individuals, including 2011-batch IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan, who served as the director of the state’s Social Welfare Department and deputy commissioner of Ranchi.
Meanwhile, Soren’s political party, JMM, staged protests against the ED’s fresh summons. Hundreds of JMM workers gathered at Morabadi Grounds in Ranchi, expressing concerns about a perceived conspiracy by the BJP to destabilize the democratically elected government in the state. They accused central agencies like the ED and CBI of being misused for political ends