Amidst heightened suspense surrounding his whereabouts, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has returned to his official residence in Ranchi and convened a meeting with alliance legislators. The drama unfolded after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted a search at his Delhi residence in connection with a money laundering case related to an alleged land deal in Jharkhand.
The search, lasting nearly 13 hours, resulted in the seizure of Rs 36 lakh, an SUV, and what the ED claimed to be "incriminating" documents. Soren, the executive president of the ruling JMM, had left for Delhi on January 27, with his scheduled government programs in the state canceled.
Facing what is possibly his toughest challenge yet, Soren returned to Ranchi, asserting, "I reside in your hearts." After chairing a meeting of legislators to plan the future course of action, he paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Bapu Vatika, a local park.
Soren, currently facing scrutiny after ED issued summons, deemed the move a "political agenda" aimed at disrupting the state government. He agreed to depose before the ED on Wednesday, stating that the insistence on recording his statement regarding the alleged land fraud case seemed malicious.
The ED had previously questioned Soren on January 20 and issued fresh summons, setting dates for questioning on either January 29 or January 31. The JMM criticized the ED's visit to the chief minister's official residence in Delhi on January 29.
Governor CP Radhakrishnan, expressing displeasure over the state's "deteriorating law and order," convened a meeting with the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police. Elaborate security measures were implemented across the state, with additional police deployment and prohibitory orders in key areas of Ranchi.
A verbal spat ensued between the ruling and opposition legislators, with the BJP claiming Soren was "missing," countered by Congress and JMM, labeling it as a rumor. The ED's recovery of cash from Soren's residence prompted questions about his finances.
The ED's investigation pertains to an alleged "huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia" in Jharkhand. Soren, in an email to the ED, accused the agency of a "motivated political agenda" and insisted on preserving the video recording of the questioning on January 20 for future legal proceedings.
(With Agency Inputs)