ED Not Satisfied With Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren’s Responses, Has A Strong Case For Summoning Him To Delhi For More Questioning
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) that is probing a Rs 1000 crore mining scam in Jharkhand grilled chief minister Hemant Soren for close to ten hours at its Ranchi office Thursday (November 18).
The ED, it is learnt, will now corroborate Soren’s responses to many queries put to him with that of his aides and associates who had been arrested earlier and also the evidence it has gathered so far. Based on that, it is likely to summon Soren for questioning again.
But that questioning may happen in Delhi. That’s because of the manner in which the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) bussed in thousands of its activists and supporters from all over the state to Ranchi to put up a defiant and even intimidatory show of strength.
The thousands of agitated JMM supporters and activists laid siege to the state capital and shouted angry slogans against the ED, the CBI and the BJP. Many of them were carrying bows and arrows as well as other weapons.
Apprehending trouble, the ED had asked the state police chief to provide adequate security at its office. A 200-strong contingent of cops from the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and state police formed a cordon around the ED’s office.
The crowds cheered Soren as he drove to the ED office around 11.50 am along with his brother Basant, who is also an MLA. Basant Soren wasn’t allowed to step into the ED office.
After cheering Soren, the mass of JMM supporters started raising angry and threatening slogans against the ED. Though they kept a distance, their fierce slogans could be clearly heard inside the ED office.
ED officers told Swarajya that the angry demonstrations were a blatant attempt to intimidate them. Throughout the day, a huge crowd armed with bows and arrows and other weapons raised fierce slogans against the ED and kept vigil.
Though the crowds thinned as dusk fell, a sizable number continued with their vigil and dispersed only after the chief minister left the ED office around 9.40 pm.
ED officers admitted that any coercive action against the chief minister could have triggered a violent backlash from the volatile crowds.
A former ED officer who spoke to Swarajya said that such intimidatory tactics deployed by the JMM gives the agency a strong case to summon Soren to Delhi for the next round of questioning.
“No amount of security provided by the state police can control a huge and angry crowd. And it was clear that senior JMM leaders sitting at the CM’s residence were issuing instructions to key people controlling the crowds. Had Soren been arrested, all hell would have broken loose. Hence, Soren should now be summoned to Delhi for questioning,” the former ED officer told Swarajya from Ranchi.
ED sources said that Soren was evasive when questioned about his financial dealings with his close aide Pankaj Mishra from whose residence Soren’s bank documents, including signed cheques, and records of the financial transactions of Soren’s family, were recovered.
Soren also could not reportedly provide satisfactory answers to pointed queries about some deposits in his bank accounts and financial transactions carried out by him or others on his behalf.
ED sources said that Soren’s responses to many queries do not match those of Mishra and others who had been arrested or questioned by the agency earlier.
The central agency will now collate all responses of Soren, match those with that of others and identify mismatches in responses. It will also go through all the evidence it has collected so far. “After all that, it may be felt necessary to summon Hemant Soren for questioning again,” said an ED officer.
But after Thursday’s show of strength by the JMM, the ED may well ask Soren to join the investigations in Delhi. It has a very strong case for doing so.
The BJP has condemned the “blatant attempt” by the JMM to “intimidate the ED” by bringing in thousands of armed supporters who staged angry demonstrations and raised slogans against the ED and the BJP in Ranchi.
“If Hemant Soren is innocent, why does he need to indulge in such intimidation? Had he been really innocent, he would have had nothing to fear. Such tactics only bely his fear of being arrested for his involvement in the (mining) scam,” said BJP legislature party leader and former chief minister Babulal Marandi.
Jharkhand Mining Scam: CM Hemant Soren To Appear Before ED Today, JMM Braces Up For Showdown In State Capital Ranchi
More Trouble For Hemant Soren As ED Chargesheets Close Aides As Beneficiaries Of Illegal Coal Mining Worth Over Rs 1,000 Crore
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