In mail to ED, Soren says insistence on questioning him again before 31 Jan reeks of malice
Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren has charged the ED with being "motivated by political agenda" to disrupt the state government's functioning
Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren has charged the Enforcement Directorate (ED) with being "motivated by political agenda" to disrupt the state government's functioning and claimed that its insistence to record his statement again on or before 31 January "reeked of malice".
In an email to the federal agency, the 48-year-old Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) executive president alleged that the issuance of a summons to him was "wholly vexatious and in colourable exercise of powers given by the statute".
"Preserve video recording of seven-hour questioning (of 20 January) to make available to the Court of Law," Soren said in the email sent on Sunday, while agreeing to record his statement on 31 January at 1.00 pm at his residence.
The federal agency had questioned Soren at his official residence in state capital Ranchi on 20 January in an alleged land scam, and had issued a fresh summons to him asking him to confirm his availability for questioning on either 29 or 31 January, sources said.
The chief minister left for Delhi on the night of 27 January while his scheduled government events in the state on Monday were cancelled without any explanation. On Monday, an ED team visited Soren's Delhi residence and reportedly camped there for 12 hours.
Official sources claimed Soren was "missing" and could not be contacted by the federal agency, but a family member alleged that a "false" narrative was being set to "delegitimise" the JMM leader's position.
The member, who did not wish to be identified, claimed there were repeated communications to ED and compliance to the summons, including willingness to record his statement on 31 January at 1.00 pm at his Ranchi residence.
Regarding Soren's departure from Ranchi for Delhi on 27 January, his party said on Monday that he was on personal work and would be back. But the Jharkhand unit of the BJP claimed that the chief minister has been “absconding” for the last 18 hours, fearing action from the ED, and urged Jharkhand governor C.P. Radhakrishnan to take cognisance of the matter as the "credibility and reputation of Jharkhand are at stake".
On 20 January, several thousand JMM supporters kept vigil at the police barricades outside Soren’s residence. Some carried bows and arrows, the JMM symbol. "Jab-jab Modi darta hai/ ED aagey karta hai (whenever Modi is scared, he calls for the ED)," they chorused, heckling the Enforcement Directorate (ED) team inside the ministerial residence on Kanke Road.
The ED team included investigators flown in from Delhi, 2,000 police personnel for their support and protection, and several administrative officials summoned on duty. The agency had come armed with some 30 questions related to the alleged land scam.
The ED sought another appointment the very next day to grill the chief minister again, which was turned down. The ED has been trying to interrogate the Jharkhand CM since August last year, and claims to have sent him as many as eight summons, the last on 16 January.