Sahebgunj,headed by Ram Nivas Yadav ( IAS 15 batch )and under its territory lies Barhet Assembly represented in the Assembly by CM Hemant Soren is in turmoil.
All roads were blocked, shops remained shut and traffic was thin in Sahebgunj today.The ruling JMM workers took to the street on Wednesday to enforce the nine-hour district bandh.
The bandh was called to protest the ED summons to Chief Minister Hemant Soren in connection with a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.
Notably, Chief Minister Hemant Soren has agreed to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in a money-laundering case linked to an alleged land scam
Sahebgunj is also the district where stone mines were illegally exploited and looted to the tune of over Rs 1000 crores by the CM Soren’s aides.
The ED had conducted the raids on January 3, and claimed that, apart from seizing “incriminating” digital devices, “it had recovered a total cash amount of ₹36.99 lakh, including ₹7.25 lakh from the camp office of Sahebganj DC Ramniwas Yadav”.
Also, ED had conducted search operations under the provisions of the PMLA, 2002, on 03.01.2024 at 12 premises located in the States of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Bihar.
The premises includes the residences of Abhishek Prasad “Pintu” (Press Advisor to CM of Jharkhand State), Ram Niwas Yadav (DC of Sahibganj District) and Rajendra Dubey (DSP of Sahibganj) in connection with a case of illegal stone mining.
Now, to protest the ED’s summons and raids the ruling JMM led by CM Soren are agitating against the ED alleging that their “leader” was “ deliberately” booked by the ED as per the hidden agenda of the opposition BJP.
Raising slogans against central probe agencies, the ruling party workers halted traffic and forced shops to down shutters in various parts of Sahebganj city and other parts of the district including Barhait, the assembly constituency of the chief minister.
The ED had on January 13 sent a letter to the chief minister, asking him to be available for questioning in the case between January 16 and January 20, sources said. In reply, Soren told the ED it can record his statement on January 20.
JMM's Sahebganj district president Shahjahan Ansari claimed that the bandh is being observed peacefully across the district with the cooperation of the people in the district. He said that the bandh has been called from 8 am to 5 pm.
Emergency services like ambulance, trains and milk vans were exempted from the purview of the strike, he said. "Our Barhait MLA and chief minister Hemant Soren formed a full majority government in Jharkhand.
But, he is being harassed by the central agencies on the direction of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), JMM leaders say.
In protest against this, we are observing bandh today," he said. The ED had sent the letter after Soren skipped seven summonses of the agency in connection with the case.
The investigation pertains to a "huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia" in Jharkhand, according to the ED.
The agency has so far arrested 14 people in the case, including 2011-batch IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan who has served as the director of the state Social Welfare Department and deputy commissioner of Ranchi.
Soren, 48, had been asked by the central agency to inform the investigating officer of the case about the date, venue and time of his choice so that his statement can be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Despite several summons issued to Soren, he has never deposed before the ED in connection with the case.
Even Sahebgunj DC Ram Nivas Yadav and two others who were summoned by the ED on three dates between January 11-16. None of them appeared.
The CM Soren had filed a petition before the Supreme Court and then the Jharkhand High Court, seeking protection from the ED action and terming the summons "unwarranted". Both the courts had dismissed his petition.