The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that former Jharkhand Chief Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) executive president Hemant Soren intended to utilise the “illegally possessed land” for the construction of a banquet hall.
A special PMLA court on Monday extended the Enforcement Directorate remand of Hemant Soren by three days till February 15 in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.
In its remand application submitted in court, the probe agency revealed crucial WhatsApp chats between Hemant Soren and his close associate Binod Singh which are highly incriminating and contain details of several such “illegal properties”.
According to the Enforcement Directorate, a detailed examination of the WhatsApp exchanges exposed a map outlining the proposed banquet hall, shared by Binod Singh with Hemant Soren on April 6, 2023.
Notably, the location specified in the plan corresponds to an 8.5-acre parcel of land currently under investigation for illegal acquisition, allegedly in Soren’s possession.
The probe agency conducted a survey on February 10 confirming the alignment between the proposed banquet site and the contested land. Officials present during the survey asserted that there was no other sizeable plot available in the vicinity suitable for such construction.
When India Today visited the said land, locals, speaking anonymously, acknowledged Soren’s ownership, while a labourer involved in earlier boundary work claimed the land belonged to someone else.
“We always knew this land belonged to Pahan. Last year, officers used to come for surveys. Enforcement Directorate officers once came and questioned my son about the land. We only recently got to know that the land belongs to Hemant Soren,” one of the locals said.
ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE INVESTIGATION
Bhanu Pratap Prasad, a revenue sub-inspector, was part of a syndicate involved in acquiring properties forcefully and through false deeds, the probe agency investigation revealed.
In February 2023, a survey at the Circle Office in Ranchi revealed falsification and tampering in the registers maintained by Bhanu Pratap Prasad. Later, a search resulted in the seizure of 11 trunks of property documents and 17 original registers.
Prasad, along with six members of the land-grabbing syndicate, was arrested in April 2023.
The probe agency alleged that Prasad was actively involved in conspiracies to acquire properties illegally, including with Hemant Soren. They seized Prasad’s mobile phone, revealing chats and information related to cash transactions, illegal benefits, and an image containing a list of properties, approximately 8.5 acres, linked to Soren.
According to the Enforcement Directorate, the survey conducted under section 16 of PMLA, 2002, confirmed the illegal possession of the said property by Hemant Soren. The seized registers, concealed by Prasad, indicated a pattern of acquiring and disposing of properties illegally.
Furthermore, the probe ageny alleged that Soren knowingly indulged in the process connected with acquisition, possession, and use of proceeds of crime.