Former Jharakhand CM Hemant Soren assisted by revenue official in Ranchi ‘land scams’: ED | India News

NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday said that former chief minister of Jharkhand Hemant Soren took assistance of a revenue official and custodian of original government records, Bhanu Pratap Prasad in his alleged “activities linked to illegal occupation, acquisition or possession of proceeds of crime in the form of landed properties.”
According to the ED officials, Prasad further misused his authority by assisting several individuals in their pursuits linked to illegal occupation, acquisition, and possession of assets acquired through criminal activities, notably in the realm of real estate properties.
The Enforcement Directorate’s statement followed the filing of a prosecution complaint by its Ranchi unit in Jharkhand against Soren and four others investigated under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. The complaint allegedly stated their involvement in acquiring, possessing, and concealing proceeds of crime, including an 8.8-acre immovable property in Bariyatu, Ranchi.
ED further said its investigation in “land scam cases has revealed the role of one of the accused persons, Bhanu Pratap Prasad.”
“ED investigation revealed that a racket of land mafia is active in Jharkhand which used to forge the land records in Ranchi. It is also revealed that ownership records of lands have also been forged to extend favours to the said land mafia,” the agency said.
Subsequently, ED said, based on forged land records, such land parcels are sold to other persons.
“Original land records of ownerships are either tampered or concealed to facilitate unlawful acquisition, possession and use of such properties,” it said.
Four other individuals, Prasad, Binod Singh, Hilarious Kachhap, and Raj Kumar Pahan, have also been named as accused in the Enforcement Directorate’s prosecution complaint. They are implicated for their involvement in aiding and abetting Hemant Soren in the illegal acquisition and possession of the mentioned property.
The PMLA court, Ranchi took cognizance of the said prosecution complaint on Thursday.
ED further said, “The afore-said property worth Rs 31 crore has also been provisionally attached by it.”
The Enforcement Directorate initiated a money laundering investigation into cases of land scams based on multiple First Information Reports (FIRs) filed by the Jharkhand Police against numerous individuals, including government officials.
ED earlier conducted 51 searches and nine surveys in connection with these cases.
During these operations, incriminating evidence such as forged seals of the Land Revenue Department, falsified land deeds, records indicating the distribution of proceeds of crime, photographs depicting forgery, and evidence of bribery to government officials were seized.
These searches resulted in the recovery and confiscation of Rs 1.25 crore in cash and the freezing of an additional Rs 3.56 crore in bank account balances.
“During one of the searches at a premise in Delhi under the use and control of Hemant Soren, cash amounting to Rs 36.34 lakh, one BMW luxury car and incriminating documents were seized,” said the ED in a statement.
ED had earlier provisionally attached tainted land parcels worth Rs 236 crore in land scam cases.
To date, 16 accused persons including Hemant Soren, Chhavi Ranjan, IAS (Ex-DC, Ranchi), Bhanu Pratap Prasad (Revenue Sub-Inspector), Amit Kumar Agarwal, Prem Prakash have been arrested in these cases.
Prosecution complaints in land scam cases have earlier been filed on June 12, 2023, and September 1, 2023, by the ED.
(With input form agency)

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