New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday sought the help of Delhi Police to locate Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren after he was not found at his Delhi residence. The ED team had reached Soren’s residence in connection with its probe into a case of alleged money laundering of hundreds of crores.
The investigators were told that Soren had left moments before they reached his residence. The phones of the CM and his personal security officers were switched off, and the agency sounded an alert. The ED also asked for pickets at the capital’s borders after they got to know that Soren had cancelled the chartered flight he was scheduled to take for Ranchi at 6 pm. Police in neighboring states were asked to look for him, leading to arguably the first-ever manhunt for a CM.
ED, which questioned Soren in Ranchi earlier this month after he had avoided eight summonses, had written to him saying it wanted him to answer a few more questions either on Monday or Wednesday. The probe team decided to question him on Monday in the capital after getting to know that he was in the city for legal consultations.
Soren’s party, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, issued a statement to deny that he was “absconding” and said Soren had agreed to meet the probe team on Wednesday even as it called the investigation a “political witch hunt”.
Later in the evening, Soren sent an email to the agency saying he was willing for a session with the investigators at 1 pm on Jan 31 at his official residence in Ranchi. He called the ED’s search for him part of a “motivated political agenda” and summons as completely “vexatious and in colorable exercise of powers given by the statute”.
Also Read This: Lalu Prasad Grilled by ED for 10 Hours in Land-for-Jobs Scam.
A security alert has been placed in Ranchi and other parts of Jharkhand in view of possible deterioration in law and order in the state even as ED is on the lookout for the CM. Soren had arrived in Delhi on Saturday possibly for “legal consultations” in view of ED’s insistence that he answer all the questions related to alleged money laundering.
ED’s Keenness to Question Soren
Sources said the Jharkhand CM has no other option but to submit before the agency as he had lost all his appeals before the Supreme Court and the Jharkhand High Court against ED summonses. Several close aides of Soren have already been arrested, including two IAS officers, his aide Prem Prakash, and his constituency representative Pankaj Mishra. Sources said they want to question Soren in the light of statements of other accused who allegedly collected ‘proceeds of crime’ from mining and land scams. Last year, ED had seized/attached assets worth more than Rs 50 crore after multiple searches at the premises of Soren’s close associates.