This question is in many people’s minds in Jharkhand today, a day after the Enforcement Directorate grilled Chief Minister Hemant Soren for about seven hours inside his residential office along Kanke Road, Ranchi. 

As per the PMLA Act, the central investigating agency ED has extensive powers to investigate and act against individuals who violate enforced laws, including special powers for confiscating disproportionate assets and arrest under the PMLA Act. 

Major laws and acts enforced by the ED encompass FEMA, PMLA, FEOA, and COFEPOSA, regulating diverse aspects of economic offenses. This empowers ED to act against an individual based on pieces of evidence and statements collected by it during investigations.  

Now, ED is understood to be evaluating the recorded response of the CM Soren to its wide range of questions in the money laundering case connected with land scam as well as illegal mining and seizure of an inland vessel in the Sahebganj case. The money laundering case against Soren primarily pertains to an alleged land scam. 

It is linked to the ownership of a land parcel measuring 7.16 acres, in the Bajra area of Ranchi, allegedly acquired through “proceeds of crime” involving the illegal sale of Army land. IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan, also an accused in the case, is currently in judicial custody. 

Alleging a BJP conspiracy to topple his government, CM Soren is on record having addressed a group of party workers and cabinet colleagues after the ED released him after quizzing him inside his residential office on Saturday night at around 9 pm, saying this.  

"An Adivasi has become the Chief Minister with your support, with the blessings of Adivasis and Moolvasis… These people (BJP) can’t do anything politically, therefore they are trying to do things behind a veil… (but) whoever tries to topple this government will get toppled themselves… I urge everyone to reach out to every village and tell the people that there is a plan afoot to loot the state, the Adivasis, and Moolvasis… and we will give a befitting reply.” 

Earlier, while skipping the ED summons, Soren had said he was being called for questioning because “he doesn’t belong to any political party in power at the Centre”. “Issuance of repeated summons is malice and part of a political conspiracy to destabilize a democratically elected government,” he had said. 

The ED, in its response, had said “The issue is not about disclosure of personal assets…but about the investigation of the assets representing proceeds of crime (from another case).”

must read