The Directorate of Enforcement Wednesday told a special court in Ranchi that former Chief Minister Hemant Soren allegedly had several incriminating chats on WhatsApp with a close aide about transfer postings, exchanged confidential information about several properties, and shared government records, according to The Indian Express report by Abhishek Angad today.

Angad’s report points out that Soren’s five-day custody ended on Wednesday. Then the ED produced him in the Special Court of Dinesh Rai, saying the agency needs to confront him with certain witnesses and accused. 

The PMLA court granted the ED five-day custody. Soren was arrested on January 31 for his alleged involvement in the ownership of 8.5 acres of land. ED, in its remand note, told the court: 

“The WhatsApp chat not only includes the exchange of confidential information regarding several properties but other incriminating information relating to transfer posting, sharing of government records, etc, out of which a huge amount of money appears to have been generated and transacted. 

In addition to this, (the close aide) has WhatsApp chats with several other persons in relation to transfer posting of officials, possession and sharing of several admit cards of students appearing for competitive exams held by Jharkhand Staff Selection Commission, etc”, states The Indian Express report.

“ED informed the court that Soren was requested to produce his phone on which he had the chats. “However, he has deliberately not produced his mobile in order to conceal facts and stall investigation relating to suspected proceeds of crime,” it alleged. 

Notably, ED has alleged that there has been “blatant misuse of power in hampering evidence linked with this case. With respect to ownership of land linked to which Soren has been arrested, the ED in its note said the first summons issued to him was on August 8, 2023, to appear before the agency on August 14. “

“The ED noted that on August 16, a petition was filed by one Raj Kumar Pahan to the Circle Officer, Bargain, stating that he was in possession of that land and ‘some persons have managed to get illegal Jamabandi of his land’”, states The Indian Express report. 

In the plea, Pahan requested the Circle Officer to take necessary actions in order to save him from eviction from the land. On January 29, 2024, the property was restored to Pahan. 

However, the ED said: “That the whole exercise of forming a report and vesting the land to the party, namely Pahan and others, has started after the Directorate of Enforcement has conducted a survey on April 20, 2023.” 

The Indian Express report adds this.”ED claimed that during their survey, it was informed that the land belongs to Soren, but there were no records of it at the Circle Office.”

“The caretaker informed… that two-three times Hemant Soren and his wife visited this property,” the ED said, adding that searches at his residence in Delhi led to the seizure of certain documents related to this case.” 

The ED claimed: “It is revealed that the proceeds of crime acquired by him are not only restricted to the investigation of the property measuring 8.5 acres, but there are several other properties linked to him, and investigation to identify the said proceeds of crime and its trail of money is essentially required at this stage.” 

“The ED had prayed for seven days of remand which we objected saying no further remand is required because he has already been interrogated for eight hours on January 20 and another eight hours on January 31,” Advocate General Rajeev Ranjan, who appeared for Soren, was quoted by PTI as telling reporters.

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