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Hemant Soren Skips 9th Summons, Whereabouts Unknown

A team from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrived at the official residence of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Monday regarding a money laundering case related to an alleged land scam. Soren, who has disregarded nine summons from the ED, received a fresh communication asking him to participate in the investigation next week. He has been requested to confirm his availability for questioning on either January 29 or 31.

Initially, the ED had instructed Soren to join the probe between January 27 and 31, but as there was no official response, a new letter-cum-summons was issued to the 48-year-old politician. On January 20, the ED recorded Soren’s statement for the first time under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) during a nearly seven-hour session at his official residence in Ranchi. However, the questioning remained incomplete, leading to the issuance of fresh summons.

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Soren, also the executive president of the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), accused the BJP-led central government of utilizing probe agencies to destabilize his administration in Jharkhand, citing this as the reason for avoiding the summons. The probe agency had recently raided the premises of Soren’s press advisor, Sahibganj district officials, and a former MLA as part of a money laundering investigation into alleged illegal mining in the state.

Since 2022, the ED has been investigating a trail of Rs 100 crore of “proceeds of crime” from illegal mining operations in Jharkhand. In connection with this probe, the agency has arrested 14 individuals, including Chhavi Ranjan, a 2011-batch IAS officer who previously served as the director of the state’s Social Welfare Department and as deputy commissioner of Ranchi. The ongoing investigation has raised significant concerns regarding alleged financial irregularities and corruption in the state’s mining sector, prompting stringent action from law enforcement agencies.

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