Why is ED camped at Soren's home today if he agreed to meet on 31 Jan?

The ED has claimed Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren is 'absconding' but confidantes of the JMM leader allege it is a "false narrative"

Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, being sought by ED for questioning in a money laundering/land scam case, claims he already agreed to meet them on 31 January (photo: National Herald archives)
Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, being sought by ED for questioning in a money laundering/land scam case, claims he already agreed to meet them on 31 January (photo: National Herald archives)

NH Digital

Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren had asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to visit CM House in Ranchi on 31 January, at 1 p.m., as they wanted to question him in connection with a money laundering case related to an alleged land fraud. He had reportedly been given the option to meet them on 29th or 31st.

However, an ED team turned Soren's residence in Delhi to question him.

The ED had, in a letter to Sorenm sought to know "when and where" he would be present for questioning between January 29 and 31, further saying "if you don't come this time, we will come to you".

Responding to that on Monday, 29 January, Soren reportedly sent an e-mail to the ED.

Official ED sources, however, have claimed that Soren is "missing" and could not be contacted by the federal agency. Meanwhile, a family member has alleged that a "false narrative" was being set up to "delegitimise" the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader's position.

Piling on, the Jharkhand unit of the BJP has claimed that the chief minister has been “absconding” for the last 18 hours, fearing the action of the ED, and has urged governor C.P. Radhakrishnan to take cognisance of the matter as the "credibility and reputation of Jharkhand are at stake".

Meanwhile, the ED raided the Jharkhand chief minister's residence in Delhi and seized his BMW, per an ANI video, on 29 January—ahead of the 31 January meeting that is reportedly scheduled.

The ED had already questioned Soren at his official residence in Ranchi on 20 January in the same case and had then issued a fresh summons, asking him to confirm his availability for questioning on either January 29 or January 31 when he declined to continue on 21 January, per official sources, who claim that Soren had sent a response but had not confirmed the date and time.

For his part, the 48-year-old JMM executive president and Jharkhand chief minister alleged in his email to the ED that its actions were "motivated by (a) political agenda" to disrupt the state government's functioning. He claimed that its insistence on recording his statement on or before 31 January reeked of malice.

'Preserve video recording of seven-hour questioning (of January 20) to make available to the court of law,' Soren said in the email.

While the chief minister's office was tightlipped on the development, Jharkhand governor Radhakrishnan said he was keeping a watch on the situation in the state.

"I am keeping a watch on the overall situation as the custodian of the Constitution. It is the job of the Governor, I am doing it. We will cross the bridge when it comes," he told reporters when queried about the options before the Raj Bhavan in the wake of the political situation in the state.

In the state capital of Ranchi, security was tightened at the chief minister's house, Raj Bhavan and central government offices on Monday, 29 January, as visuals of the ED action at Soren's South Delhi house flashed across screens through the day.

A massive rally was taken out by the JMM workers in Ranchi, accusing the ED of targeting Soren. Protests were also held in Jamshedpur and other parts of the state.

Jharkhand Congress president Rajesh Thakur seemed to agree with the JMM, alleging that confusion was being created surrounding Soren’s location in a “well-designed conspiracy”.

“Attempts are being made to create a perception that President’s Rule will be imposed in the state. People are spreading rumours that the chief minister is missing,” Thakur said.

Meanwhile, asked about the possibility of imposition of President's Rule, the governor said it was just "guesswork" at present, adding that political parties should not get involved in it.

On Soren skipping the ED summons, he said, "I will tell you one thing — nobody is above the law... If the chief minister is not responding today, he has to respond tomorrow."

A top Jharkhand government official said, "It is an unprecedented situation here. No one knows the whereabouts of the chief minister."

With IANS inputs

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