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Rediff.com  » News » ED attaches Rs 31-cr worth land 'belonging' to Soren

ED attaches Rs 31-cr worth land 'belonging' to Soren

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
April 05, 2024 09:15 IST
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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached 8.86 acres of land in Ranchi allegedly owned by former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren as part of a money laundering investigation against him and his associates, the federal agency said on Thursday.

IMAGE: Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren. Photograph: ANI Photo

The ED had filed a charge sheet against the 48-year-old Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader and four others -- Bhanu Pratap Prasad, Raj Kumar Pahan, Hilariyas Kachhap and Binod Singh -- on March 30 before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Ranchi.

The court took cognisance of the prosecution complaint on Thursday, the ED said in a statement.

 

The ED requested the court for confiscation of the 8.86-acre plot.

Soren was arrested in this case by the ED in January after he was questioned at his official residence in Ranchi.

He resigned as the chief minister shortly before his arrest. He is in judicial custody and currently lodged in the Birsa Munda central jail in Ranchi's Hotwar.

The money laundering investigation stems from multiple first information reports (FIRs) registered by Jharkhand Police in land 'scam' cases against several people, including government officials.

The prime accused in the case is Prasad, a former Jharkhand revenue department official and custodian of government records, who is alleged to have 'misused' his official position by providing assistance to several people including Soren in their activities linked to illegal occupation, acquisition and possession of proceeds of crime in the form of landed properties, the agency said in its statement.

'A racket of land mafia is active in Jharkhand which used to forge the land records in Ranchi,' it claimed.

During the probe, the ED said, it was found that the ownership records of lands had also been 'forged' to extend favours to the said land mafia and subsequently, on the basis of forged land records, such land parcels were sold to other persons.

'Original land records of ownerships are either tampered or concealed to facilitate unlawful acquisition, possession and use of such properties,' it said.

Prasad, the ED said in its charge sheet, was a member of a syndicate which was involved in acquiring lands by fraudulent means which included tampering with original government registers, falsification of government records and manufacturing fake documents.

The land that is alleged to have been acquired by Soren is about 8.86 acres in size and located at Baragain Anchal, Bariyatu Road in Ranchi.

It was valued at Rs 31,07,02,480 as per urban residential property rate of Rs 3,50,680 per decimal, stated the ED charge sheet, which was accessed by PTI.

The agency said Soren was in the 'possession' of this immovable asset since 2010-11 in a 'camouflaged and concealed' manner.

It also accused Soren of 'misusing his power and influence' to create 'parallel and false evidence' since he was issued the first summons for questioning in this case on August 7, 2023 for appearance a week later.

The agency said they have recorded the statement of a person identified as Baijnath Munda and his cousin Shyamlal Pahan who claimed that the land, which Soren is alleged to have taken over, 'was originally owned by his ancestors and was forcefully acquired by Shibu Soren (Hemant Soren's father) and Hemant Soren' and their complaint in this regard was not accepted at any police station due to their (Sorens) 'high influence'.

The ED said the land allegedly 'acquired' land was a 'Bhuinhari' property that cannot be transferred or sold to anyone under general situation and 'Mundas' and 'Pahans' were the owners of such land assets.

'Since this 8.86 acre property was vacant and no construction was done on it, Hemant Soren, in connivance with others, got hold over his property illegally by asserting it as 'Bhuinhari' property and the earlier persons having possession of the said land were evicted...,' the ED claimed.

The agency claimed Soren and Prasad were 'knowingly' a party in the activities connected with acquisition, possession, concealment and use of proceeds of crime as well as projecting the said proceeds of crime (8.86 acres land) as untainted property.

Accused Pahan, Kachhap and Singh 'knowingly assisted' Soren in his activities connected with the proceeds of crime.

Soren, in his statement to the ED, denied having any link to the said property and said he had no relation with Prasad.

The ED said during its searches at a residential house 'under use and control' of Soren in Delhi on January 29, Rs 36.34 lakh cash, a BMW car and incriminating documents were seized.

It said Soren said in his statement to the agency that he used this car the same day. The agency claimed the former CM purchased it by personally visiting the vehicle showroom.

The ED said it has arrested 16 people in the case including IAS officer and former Ranchi district collector Chhavi Ranjan, Amit Kumar Agarwal and Prem Prakash.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.