Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on charges of money laundering shortly after he resigned from his position. The arrest came after more than seven hours of questioning related to an alleged land fraud case.
Meanwhile, sources indicated that Hemant Soren, who resigned from his position and was subsequently arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), is scheduled to appear before a court on Thursday. The probe agency is expected to seek custody of Soren and present the evidence gathered against the de facto JMM chief.
Soren, a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader, submitted his resignation to Governor CP Radhakrishnan at the Raj Bhavan before being taken to the ED office. Sources indicate that the 48-year-old leader was perceived as “evasive” during questioning, leading to his arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED is expected to present Soren before a special PMLA court, seeking his remand for custodial interrogation. During the second round of questioning, the agency posed 15 questions to Soren, following an initial session on January 20.
Before taking him into custody, Soren was shown typed statements recorded with the agency, and his signatures were sought on these documents. The nature of his response to these requests remains unclear.
The money laundering allegations against Soren are linked to the alleged illegal possession of certain immovable assets and purported connections with members of the ‘land mafia.’ The investigation focuses on a “huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia” in Jharkhand.
The ED has previously arrested 14 individuals in connection with the case, including 2011-batch IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan and Jharkhand land revenue department employee Bhanu Prasad Prasad. The probe involves the examination of “huge amounts of proceeds of crime generated by manipulation of official records by showing dummy sellers and purchasers in the guise of forged/bogus documents to acquire huge parcels of land having value in crores.”
ED’s prolonged questioning session on January 20
Earlier, on January 20, Hemant Soren underwent questioning by the ED regarding the same matter. An officer revealed that the inquiry was not completed on that day, with the session lasting more than seven hours. ED officials stated that the prolonged investigation aims to probe a significant racket involving the unlawful alteration of land ownership by a ‘mafia’ in Jharkhand.
Section 144 imposed near CM’s residence
In response to the unfolding situation, Section 144 has been imposed within a radius of one hundred meters around the Chief Minister’s residence from 9 AM to 10 PM. This prohibits the entry and exit of individuals, while a substantial deployment of paramilitary forces and a significant police presence further enhance security measures.
Protests by JMM legislators
Before the ED initiated questioning of the Chief Minister, legislators from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) arrived at his residence on Wednesday morning. Health Minister and Congress leader Banna Gupta stated their cooperation with Soren in the investigation. He emphasised the constitutional duty of institutions to conduct a thorough and fair investigation. Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Badal Patralekh asserted that all legislators stand united with the Chief Minister.