No more trouble for Hemant Soren as close aides of ED charge sheets as beneficiaries of illegal coal mining worth more than Rs 1,000 Crore

Jharkhand’s Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s woes seem to be piling up.

The latest setback comes in the form of the Law Enforcement (ED) Directorate investigating an illegal coal mining racket similar to that in neighboring Bengal, filing an indictment against close associates of Soren for their involvement in racketeering.

The ED also estimated the racket proceeds to be worth more than Rs 1,000 crore.

The ED indictment sheet names ruling MP Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Pankaj Mishra as the kingpin of the racket.

Mishra, who was arrested on July 19 by the ED and is currently in police custody, is very close to Soren who faces disqualification from the state assembly for holding a stone quarrying license.

Mishra would be JMM’s chief financial officer and had advised Soren on key issues. His arrest was a blow to the Chief Minister.

“Investigations revealed that Pankaj Mishra, who enjoys enormous political clout, controls illegal mining businesses as well as domestic ferry services in Sahebganj and its adjacent areas through his accomplices. It has considerable control over the extraction of stone chips and boulders as well as the installation and operation of several crushers installed at various mining sites in Sahebganj,” an ED spokesperson said.

The ED indictment filed under the strict Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002 in a special court in Ranchi, also names another associate of Soren – businessman Prem Prakash – as the main defendant.

Mishra’s interrogation led the ED to focus on Prem Prakash who is close to many high-level state politicians and bureaucrats.

Two AK-47 rifles and 60 live rounds were recovered from one of Prakash’s residences. Prakash was arrested on August 5 and is in jail.

The ED had also raided the residences and offices of accountants Jaishankar Jaipuriar and Anita Kumari and seized numerous documents revealing the involvement of JMM politicians and government officials close to them in the illegal mining racketeering. coal.

A senior ED officer said the agency’s investigations revealed that Mishra, Prem Prakash and another ringleader Bachuu Yadav were also involved in laundering huge sums of money on behalf of some politicians in foreground of the JMM.

The ED searched 47 locations across the country and seized Rs 5.34 crore in cash. The agency froze bank accounts in which a total of Rs 13.32 crore – the proceeds of illegal coal mining racketeering – was parked. The ED also seized a river boat MV Infralink-III, five rock crushers and two Hyva trucks belonging to Mishra.

While Ranchi Court learned of ED’s indictment earlier this week, ED’s investigation is still ongoing.

The indictment is not the last and other names are likely to be added to the list of defendants.

BJP leaders say Hemant Soren is likely to come under the ED scanner as more evidence is uncovered.

“Prem Prakash is very close with Soren family friend Amit Agarwal. Agarwal manages the financial affairs and investments of the Soren family. Prakash is also involved with the Maoists,” said BJP Lok Sabha MP Nishikant Dubey.

Dubey says a thorough investigation will reveal Hemant Soren’s name as the main beneficiary of the racket.

The ED’s assertion that investigations into the racketeering are ongoing and that the indictment that has been submitted is not the final one is of grave concern to Hemant Soren.

“This means the ED believes there is much more to the racketeering than it has been able to uncover thus far. And the evidence is said to be mounting against Soren and certain other JMM leaders,” said Dubey, who represents Godda Lok Sabha headquarters.

The money trail, those in the know have confirmed swarajyaslowly leads to the direction of JMM.

The proceeds of the racketeering were funneled through Hemant Soren’s close aide, Pankaj Mishra, on behalf of JMM’s top executives, through a network of deals and front companies located in various parts of the country.

ED raids on chartered accountants and properties in Bihar, Delhi, Gurugram, Noida and Tamil Nadu have led to the seizure of numerous incriminating documents which are being analysed.

Other people, ED sources confirmed, will be called for questioning in the case. And the ED is likely to seek further custody of Pankaj Mishra and others for questioning.

Mishra learns to be angry with Hemant Soren for not doing enough to bail him out. He (Mishra) has been behind bars for more than two months. Soren made no attempt to defend him.

“Mishra is very upset that Soren, whom he was very close to, practically abandoned him. Soren did not even grant legal assistance and left Mishra to defend himself. So it is very likely that Mishra will start talking and spill the beans about his party’s (JMM’s) top leaders’ involvement in the racketeering,” said a senior BJP leader who was a minister in the last BJP government in the state.

ED’s ongoing review of documents seized from chartered accountants also leads the agency to suspect the direct involvement of JMM’s top executives in the racketeering.

All of this is bad news for Hemant Soren who faces an uncertain future. State Governor Ramesh Bais has yet to reveal the contents of a letter he received from the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding a complaint against Soren for violation of the Representation of the People Act. .

The ECI is widely believed to have recommended the disqualification of Hemant Soren from the assembly and the banning of his candidacy for elections for a number of years.

The Governor’s non-disclosure of the ECI recommendations kept Hemant Soren and the JMM-Congress-RJD government of the state in suspense.

Also Read: Explained: The Political Confusion and Conundrum of Jharkhand

In the face of uncertainty and divisiveness, a desperate Hemant Soren resorts to tightrope in Jharkhand

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