Hemant Soren illegally acquired 12 land parcels in Ranchi: ED tells court | Latest News India

Hemant Soren illegally acquired 12 land parcels in Ranchi: ED tells court | Latest News India

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Former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren had illegally acquired and possessed 12 adjacent land parcels in Ranchi measuring 8.5 acres, obtained by “a very large syndicate” involved in grabbing properties, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) claimed on Thursday, a day after the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief was arrested on money laundering charges in connection with an alleged land dead.

Outgoing Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren being taken by Enforcement Directorate officials for the summons in an alleged land scam at the ED court, in Ranchi on Thursday (ANI)

The federal agency made the claim while producing Soren before a special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court in Ranchi, which sent the JMM leader to judicial custody for a day even as ED sought his 10-day custody.

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HT had exclusively reported on Thursday that ED arrested 48-year-old Soren under PMLA for allegedly grabbing a parcel of land in Jharkhand illegally.

The ED case against Soren stems from June 2023 raids against Bhanu Pratap Prasad, a sub-inspector in the revenue department in the state, who allegedly worked along with the land mafia.

Also Read: ‘Don’t I have right to buy properties?’: Hemant Soren in 2021 interview to HT

“Prasad was actively involved in hatching conspiracies with other persons to acquire and conceal various properties in an illegal manner including the properties which are illegally acquired and possessed by Hemant Soren,” ED said in its court documents on Thursday.

The agency further said it recovered the details of these properties from Prasad’s phone as well. “The list of 12 properties which are adjacently situated and all-together make a very big property of an area of about 850 decimals (8.5 acres) have been recovered from the mobile phone of Prasad. Investigation has revealed that this property is and has been illegally acquired and possessed by Hemant Soren,” it said, adding this property is “proceeds of crime”.

Recorded statements of several people as well as a survey done established that this property was in illegal possession and use of the former CM, the agency claimed.

About the searches at Soren’s Delhi residence on January 29, ED told the court it has recovered 36.34 lakh from the cupboard allegedly used by the JMM leader besides documents related to the ongoing investigation.

Also Read | Champai Soren to take oath as Jharkhand CM today, floor test in 10 days

“Hence, Soren is actively and knowingly involved in the process and activities connected with the acquisition, concealment, possession and use of the proceeds of crime, and projecting the said proceeds of crime as untainted property,” ED alleged.

Soren was arrested on Wednesday soon after he resigned as the chief minister and following nearly seven-hour questioning by ED sleuths in connection with the PMLA case linked to the alleged land deal in Jharkhand.

Additional solicitor general of India (ASGI) Anil Kumar, representing ED, prayed for the 10-day custody of the JMM leader. The court while sending Soren to one-day judicial custody kept its verdict reserved on the longer custody prayer.

About the said 8.5-acre property, Soren, who was represented by state’s advocate general Rajeev Ranjan, contented the land fell under the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act and it cannot be transferred and the special regulation officer in Ranchi had restored the possession of the land back to its original owner on January 29.

Officials aware of the matter said Soren had refused to remove a religious locket and a ring he was wearing at the time of his personal search on Wednesday.

As reported by HT, accused land grabbers in Jharkhand allegedly usurped prime landed parcels by making fake deeds using manufactured identities and falsifying original land records at circle offices and registrar of assurances (RoA), Kolkata and circle offices in Jharkhand. Then, they would obtain certified copies of those deeds before disposing of the properties in connivance with each other. They would use fake stamps/seals using which they created these fake deeds.

The agency has alleged that Prasad was working with others, including businessman Amit Agarwal, arrested IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan, and eight other individuals — Dilip Kumar Ghosh (a close aide of Agarwal), Pradip Bagchi, Afshar Ali (alleged kingpin who created fake deeds on landed properties), Mohammad Saddam Hussain, Imtiaz Ahmad, Talha Khan and Faiyaz Ahmed.

ED had recovered 11 trunks holding voluminous property documents from Prasad’s premises along with 17 original registers during the raids last year. Being a custodian of many original registers of land records and their ownership details of the state, he was a key person. The agency shared the information with the Jharkhand government, which got a first information report (FIR) registered against Prasad at the Sadar police station in Ranchi on June 1, 2023. ED took cognisance of the FIR to file its money laundering case on June 26.

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