Ranchi (Jharkhand) [India]: After a prolonged moment of speculation in the media and a hide-and-seek drama, Jharkhand Chief Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Chairperson Hemant Soren got arrested by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in the land scam case on Wednesday night, sources confirmed.
Earlier on Wednesday evening, JMM Chief Hemant Soren met Governor CP Radhakrishnan at Raj Bhawan and handed over his resignation after over six hours of questioning by the ED in connection with a money laundering probe linked to the alleged land scam case.
Notably, Hemant Soren’s loyalist Champai Soren, who is the state transport minister will step into his role as the Chief Minister.
Champai Soren, the state transport minister, is a seven-time MLA and he represents the Seraikella constituency in Jharkhand. Before joining the JMM, he was an independent MLA.
He actively participated in the movement for the separate statehood of Jharkhand and rose to prominence during that movement. Later, Champai came to be known as the ‘Tiger of Jharkhand.’
‘We have chosen Champai Soren as the leader of the Legislative Party. We came to the Raj Bhawan to request the governor for the oath ceremony,’ JMM leader and state minister Banna Gupta told reporters.
Earlier in the day, a team of ED officials arrived at the residence of Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren for questioning in connection with a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.
As per sources, the ED had issued a fresh summons to Soren, asking him to be available for questioning on January 29 or 31, or else the agency itself would go to him for questioning. This is the tenth summons issued to the Jharkhand Chief Minister by the ED.
There was heavy police deployment around the Chief Minister’s residence in Ranchi.
Meanwhile, section 144 was imposed within a radius of 100 metres outside the CM’s residence, Raj Bhavan, and the ED office, amid the anticipation of protests, rallies, and processions by the workers of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) against the action of the central agency on Chief Minister Soren.
Earlier in the day, the JMM workers gathered at Morabadi grounds against the ED’s action. The workers were gathered in large numbers and were continuously chanting ‘Hemant Soren Zindabad.’.
On Monday, officials from the ED visited Soren’s residence in Delhi to question him. The central agency seized two cars and Rs 36 lakh but did not find the JMM leader.
Later, Soren, in a letter to the Enforcement Directorate, said he would record his statement before the agency officials at 1 pm on Wednesday, January 31, at his residence in Ranchi.
The Jharkhand chief minister alleged that questioning him at this time was more political and was meant to disrupt the functioning of his government.
According to the ED, CM Soren was questioned as a part of the probe into the ‘huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia’.
The probe pertains to huge amounts of proceeds of crime generated by forging official records by showing ‘fake sellers’ and purchasers in the guise of forged or bogus documents to acquire huge parcels of land having value in crores.