Illegal mining case: ED summons Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren tomorrow
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Thursday in connection with alleged money laundering in an illegal mining case. This comes after the investigation agency arrested Soren's aide Pankaj Mishra in the case, accusing him of illegally acquiring large assets. In July, the ED raided 19 locations in Jharkhand related to Mishra and his accomplices.
Why does this story matter?
- Following a plea in August, the Election Commission (ECI) had written to Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais 'suggesting' Soren's disqualification from the state Assembly over holding an office of profit.
- He was accused of extending a mining lease to himself while holding a public office in violation of the electoral law. The matter was raised by former CM Raghubar Das in February this year.
Soren to report at Ranchi ED office at 11 am
The ED aims to record Soren's statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at its office in the state capital Ranchi. The agency claims to have identified proceeds in the illegal mining case to the tune of Rs. 1,000 crore until now, reported Outlook, while assets acquired illegally by Mishra amounting to Rs. 42 crore have been identified.
Two cheques signed by Soren were found with Mishra
Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, asking him to appear before its Ranchi-based office for questioning in connection with the illegal mining case on November 3: Sources— ANI (@ANI) November 2, 2022
(File photo) pic.twitter.com/wssNdVcqvr
Cases of extortion, illegal arms, explosives slapped
The ED found in its investigation that Mishra — MLA from Barhait, Sahibganj — enjoys political clout and controls the illegal mining trade and inland ferry services in the district and surrounding areas. Following the PMLA case, several FIRs for illegal mining, extortion, explosive substances, and illegal arms have been registered against him. Mishra's musclemen Bachchu Yadav and Prem Prakash were also arrested.
ED conducted 47 raids throughout the country
The ED conducted 47 searches throughout the country in the case and seized Rs. 5.34 crore, two AK-47 assault rifles, an inland vessel MV Infralink-III worth Rs. 30 crore, and two Hyva trucks. It sealed five stone-crushing units and froze bank accounts containing Rs. 13.32 crore apart from confiscating incriminating documents. Jharkhand police later claimed the assault rifles as its own.
Soren still holds the mining portfolio
The ED also registered a case in May against now-suspended IAS officer Pooja Singhal and her businessman husband for money laundering in alleged corruption in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme. Singhal was the mining secretary of Jharkhand before her arrest by ED while Soren still holds the mining portfolio. A BJP delegation had demanded that Soren be removed as CM.