ED begins questioning Hemant Soren in money laundering case in Jharkhand

Soren is currently under questioning as part of an investigation into a 'significant racket involving the illegal transfer of land ownership by a 'mafia' in Jharkhand

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren (photo: National Herald archives)
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren (photo: National Herald archives)
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PTI

Amid heavy security cover, ED officials on Wednesday began questioning Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren at his residence here for the second time in less than a fortnight, in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.

Soren, 48, who is also the executive president of the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), had earlier been questioned in connection with the case on January 20. The interrogation, however, remained incomplete on that day when he was grilled for more than seven hours, an officer said.

Soren is being questioned as part of a probe into a 'huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia' in Jharkhand, ED officials have said. Legislators of the ruling JMM-led coalition gathered at Soren’s residence to express their solidarity with the CM.

Health Minister and Congress leader Banna Gupta said Soren is cooperating in the investigation, but added that it was the duty of constitutional institutions to conduct such probes “properly”. State Agriculture Minister Badal Patralekh told PTI that all legislators stand solidly behind the chief minister.

Meanwhile, JMM supporters were seen protesting at the nearby Morabadi Ground and in some other places in protest against the ED action against Soren. 'Our chief minister is being deliberately harassed by the ED on directions from the Centre... We will resort to economic blockade in the entire state,' one of the agitators said.

Security personnel escorting the ED officials are equipped with high-resolution body cameras to keep track of the activities around Soren's residence, amid heavy police deployment there. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC are effective from 9 am to 10 pm within a radius of 100 metres at key locations in the state capital, including the CM House.

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