Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s whereabouts created a great concern in the offices of the Enforcement Directorate today as the agency went to his Delhi residence for a search. Mr Soren was not at home and the agency, after conducting a search, seized some documents and his BMW car. But the officials, who wanted to record Mr Soren’s statement, were left in the dark on his whereabouts.
So far, the Chief Minister has evaded seven summons for questioning and sources said he is prepping to challenge the ED’s summons in court.
The investigating team went to Jharkhand Bhawan and his father’s residence at Motilal Nehru Marg. But Mr Soren could not be found there either. His chartered plane remained parked at the Delhi Airport.
Some officers of the agency are still camping out outside his house.
A mail from the Chief Minister’s Office, however, reached the ED, informing them that they can interrogate him at 1 pm on January 31 — the last day of the time allotted to him — at his home in Ranchi.
Sources said Mr Soren is getting ready to move the Supreme Court tomorrow to challenge the ED’s summons. He was last questioned in Ranchi on January 20 in the money laundering case in connection with an alleged land deal.
Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act or PMLA, a person’s statement has to be recorded before any arrest, Mr Soren can be arrested if his compliance is in doubt, sources said.
The Rs 600-crore scam involves a “huge racket” to change of ownership of government land, which was subsequently sold to builders, the agency has alleged.
The agency has so far arrested 14 people in the case, including 2011-batch IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan who served as the director of the state Social Welfare Department and deputy commissioner of Ranchi.
Mr Soren has claimed that he is the target of a huge conspiracy.
“A conspiracy was hatched against me, but the final nail in the coffin of the conspirators will be put by us… We will not be scared, your leader will face the bullets first and keep your morale high,” he told the workers of his Jharkhand Mukti Morcha last week.