RANCHI: With the Enforcement Directorate (ED) tightening its noose around Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, the state administration has imposed Section 144 under CrPc within 100 meters radius of his residence, Raj Bhavan and ED office in Ranchi on Tuesday. According to news agency ANI, the order will remain in force till 10 pm. During this period, any kind of protest or demonstration has been banned. “According to the information received, there is information about protests, demonstrations, rallies etc., by various organizations/parties. The possibility of such programs causing disruption in government work, disrupting traffic, creating law and order problems and disturbing public peace cannot be ruled out,” the order said.
This comes as the ED officials visited Soren’s Delhi home to question him in connection with a money laundering investigation.
Will Record Statement Tomorrow: Soren
Meanwhile, the Jharkhand Chief Minister, in a letter to the Enforcement Directorate, said he will record his statement before the agency officials at 1 pm on Wednesday at his residence. While accepting to record his statement, the Jharkhand chief minister alleged that questioning him at this time was more political and was meant to disrupt the functioning of his government.
“You are well aware that the Budget Session of the Legislative Assembly will be held between 2nd and 29th February 2024 and the undersigned will be pre-occupied with preparations for the same apart from other prior scheduled official engagements,” the letter written by Soren to ED’s Ranchi office said.
“In these circumstances, 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.
ED Seizes Soren’s BMW Car
On Monday, Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials seized a luxury car belonging to Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren from his Delhi residence late on Monday, in connection with the ongoing probe into a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam. Sources revealed that the BMW confiscated by the ED on Monday is believed to be acquired from the “proceeds of crime,” a significant development in the ongoing probe. Soren reportedly utilized this vehicle during his stays in the national capital, adding to the gravity of the seizure.
Besides, the Enforcement Directorate team also recovered Rs 36 lakhs in cash from Soren’s Delhi residence, said sources.
Despite repeated summons, Soren has eluded interrogation, raising suspicions about his involvement in the case. He has notably ignored seven summons issued by the ED, with indications that he may contest them legally.
ED officials, determined to locate Soren, have scoured both Jharkhand Bhawan and his father’s residence, but to no avail. His chartered plane remained grounded at the Delhi Airport, further complicating the search. In a bid to counter the ED’s actions, Soren appears poised to challenge the ED summons in the Supreme Court, underscoring the escalating legal battle between the two parties.
The Enforcement Directorate officials visited the residence of Soren in the national capital on Monday night for questioning him in connection with the alleged land scam case and said that the Jharkhand Chief Minister could not be located.
What Are The Allegations Against Soren?
The money laundering case, amounting to a staggering Rs 600 crore, alleges a widespread conspiracy involving the illicit transfer and sale of government land to developers. Notably, the ED has apprehended 14 individuals thus far, including high-ranking officials like IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan.
Conspiracy By BJP: Soren
However, Soren has vehemently denied the accusations, attributing them to a concerted effort to malign his reputation. He has rallied support from his party members, vowing to confront the purported conspirators head-on.
Political Turmoil In Jharkhand
The Jharkhand BJP has seized upon the situation, accusing Soren of evading authorities and undermining the state’s integrity. The BJP has now alleged that Soren has “gone missing.” “Today, the honour and respect of the people of Jharkhand were destroyed by our Chief Minister Hemant Soren ji, just by going missing,” BJP parliamentarian from Jharkhand, Nishikant Dubey, wrote on his X timeline. Reports about Soren’s alleged escape from his Delhi residence shrouded in secrecy and speculation, have further fuelled the controversy surrounding his involvement in the case.