In response to the arrest of former Chief Minister Hemant Soren, numerous tribal outfits have called for a Jharkhand bandh on Thursday. Ajay Tirkey, the president of Kendriya Sarna Samiti, stated that 15-20 tribal organisations from various parts of the state will participate in the shutdown. Expressing discontent, Tirkey mentioned, “Despite cooperating with the ED in the investigation, Hemant Soren was arrested. We strongly oppose this action.”
Tirkey said that emergency services would not be hampered by the shutdown. “We will not disturb schools if they were opened on Thursday,” he added.
ED arrests Hemant Soren
On Wednesday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) apprehended JMM leader Hemant Soren following more than seven hours of interrogation related to money laundering allegations in a purported land fraud case.
Prior to his arrest, Soren submitted his resignation as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand to Governor CP Radhakrishnan at the Raj Bhavan. Subsequently, he was escorted to the ED office in Ranchi. Sources have disclosed that during the questioning, the 48-year-old Soren was perceived as “evasive” in his responses, leading to his detention under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Soren to be produced before PMLA court
The ED is expected to produce Soren before a special PMLA court in Ranchi and the agency will seek his remand for custodial interrogation, the sources said. The sources said the agency put across 15 questions to Soren during the second round of questioning in the case. He was first quizzed on January 20.
The allegations of money laundering against the JMM leader pertain to the alleged illegal possession of certain immovable assets apart from his purported links with members of the ‘land mafia’. The investigation is linked to a “huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia” in Jharkhand, according to the central probe agency.
14 people arrested so far in the case
The ED has so far arrested 14 people in the case, including 2011-batch IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan who served as the director of the state’s Social Welfare Department and deputy commissioner of Ranchi. An employee of the Jharkhand land revenue department, Bhanu Prasad Prasad, was also arrested by the agency in the case.
The ED is probing the alleged “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”.
(With inputs from PTI)