Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials, under tight security, reached the residence of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren in Ranchi on January 20 for questioning in connection with a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam. The 48-year-old Chief Minister and executive president of the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) had previously avoided seven summonses from the ED. However, he consented to appear after being summoned for the eighth time.
The ED officials, accompanied by CISF for security, arrived at Soren’s residence around 1 p.m. The use of high-resolution body cameras by CISF aims to monitor activities around the Chief Minister’s residence. Ahead of the ED questioning, the ruling JMM convened a meeting of all its legislators at the Chief Minister’s House to discuss the situation and strategize the future course of action based on the ED questioning outcome.
While tribals protested against the ED summons, JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya stated that the protests were spontaneous, and the party had not officially called for them. Congress Jharkhand President Rajesh Thakur expressed solidarity with the CM, and Congress MLAs gathered at the CM residence to show support.
The ED investigation relates to an alleged “huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia” in Jharkhand. Fourteen people, including an IAS officer, have been arrested in connection with the case. Soren had sought protection from the Supreme Court and Jharkhand High Court, but both dismissed his petitions. Jharkhand Governor C P Radhakrishnan emphasized that the ED is performing its duty, and the CM should provide appropriate answers to the probe agency. The ruling coalition in the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly comprises 47 MLAs, with 29 from JMM, 17 from Congress, and one from RJD.