Court takes cognisance of ED chargesheet against Hemant Soren

Enforcement Directorate attaches ₹31-crore worth Ranchi land ‘belonging’ to former Jharkhand chief minister

former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren (photo: IANS)
former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren (photo: IANS)


A special court in Ranchi on Thursday, 4 April, took cognisance of the chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren and four others in connection with the land scam.

The matter, which is under investigation as per the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, pertains to allegedly acquiring, possessing, and concealing the proceeds of crime in the form of an immovable property measuring 8.8 acres at Bariatu in Ranchi.

In a statement on Thursday, the ED said that besides Hemant Soren, four other persons -- Bhanu Pratap Prasad, Binod Singh, Hileyrious Kachhap and Raj Kumar Pahan have also been named as accused in the case for their alleged roles in aiding the former Jharkhand chief minister in his unlawful acquisition and possession of the said property.

The ED said that the mentioned property that is worth Rs 31 crore has also been provisionally attached.

The financial probe agency had initiated money laundering investigation in the cases of land scam on the basis of multiple FIRs registered by Jharkhand Police against several persons including government officials.

"ED investigation has revealed that one of the accused persons, Bhanu Pratap Prasad, a revenue department official and custodian of original government records, misused his official position by providing assistance to several persons including Hemant Soren in their activities linked to illegal occupation, acquisition and/or possession of proceeds of crime in form of landed properties," the probe agency said in the statement.

The probe also revealed that a racket of land mafia is active in Jharkhand which used to forge the land records in Ranchi.

"It is also revealed that ownership records of lands have also been forged to extend favours to the said land mafia. Subsequently, on the basis of forged land records, such land parcels are sold to other persons," the ED said.

The ED claimed that original land records of ownership are either tampered or concealed to facilitate unlawful acquisition, possession and use of such properties.

The agency had earlier carried out 51 searches and nine surveys in such cases and incriminating evidence like forged seals of Land Revenue Department, forged land deeds, records of distribution of proceeds of crime, photographs of doing forgery, evidence of giving bribes to government officials etc., were seized.

"Searches have resulted in the recovery and seizure of Rs 1.25 crore (approximately) cash and further freezing of Rs 3.56 crore of bank account balances. During one of the searches at a premise in Delhi under the use and control of Hemant Soren, cash amounting to Rs 36.34 lakh, one BMW car and incriminating documents were seized," it said.

The ED had earlier provisionally attached land parcels worth Rs 236 crore in land scam cases.

To date, 16 accused individuals, including Hemant Soren, have been arrested in connection with these cases.

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