Jharkhand: ED grills Hemant Soren for over 9 hours in illegal mining case | Ranchi News

RANCHI: Chief minister Hemant Soren arguably became the first sitting CM in the country to be questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) when on Thursday he was quizzed for more than nine hours by the central agency in the alleged Rs 1,000 crore illegal stone and sand mining case in Sahibganj district in the state.
Soren reached the ED’s regional office here around 11:50 am. Soren (47) emerged from the ED’s office around 9:40 pm and drove off to his home along with his wife, Kalpana, who arrived a little before 9 pm. JMM central general secretary and party spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said, “The CM has not been given any further date for appearing before the ED.” Earlier in the day, Soren, in a press briefing, had rejected the allegations and claimed he was being framed as a part of a larger political conspiracy.
The Ranchi administration had thrown a three-tier security ring around the ED’s airport road office at Hinno here and deployed more than 200 policemen from the Rapid Action Force of the state police as thousands of JMM supporters gathered in the state capital to express their anger against the Union government and the central agencies.
Soren was accompanied to the ED office by his lawmaker brother Basant Soren. While Basant was not allowed inside the office premises, Soren walked in alone. Soon after Soren went in, Basant said, “BJP is harassing the CM because of the JMM’s growing popularity in the state. The CM will reply to all of ED’s allegations.”
After Soren’s return, Congress state president Rajesh Thakur said, “All is well. The UPA MLAs will meet at the CM house on Friday.”
Meanwhile, the ED officials remained tight-lipped about the findings of their questioning.
Sources claimed that the sleuths rejected Soren’s arguments that the amount of stone quarried and shipped from Sahibganj was only 20% of the nearly nine crore metric tons of stone which has been mined across Jharkhand in the past couple of years. Soren’s questioning kept the incumbent Mahagathbandhan government of JMM, Congress and RJD on tenterhooks as its ministers and lawmakers stayed put at the CM’s residence and kept a sharp eye on the unfolding of events. Soren was summoned for questioning after the ED sleuths arrested his constituency representative Pankaj Mishra in July and found the CM’s signed cheques and passbooks in his possession.
The ED claimed that Mishra controlled the illegal mining activities in Sahibganj and the proceeds of crime worth Rs 42 crore were traced to him. Earlier, Soren claimed that he was summoned immediately after governor’s atom bomb jibe and hinted at a larger conspiracy to frame him. The ED was making sensational statements without ascertaining facts as it would take four times the amount of stones mined to amass Rs 1,000 crore illegally, he stated. He issued a point-by-rebuttal of the ED charges with data from the mining department, saying illegally Rs 1,000 crores in royalty is impossible. Godda MP Nishikant Dubey and former CM Babulal Marandi ridiculed Soren. While Dubey said his statements were made out of fear, and as a son of “andolankari” Shibu Soren, he should face the ED if he is innocent, Marandi said it needs “brains” to understand that the ED is probing illegal mining and not royalty theft.

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