Ranchi, Jan 20 (The Street Press India) – Extra security measures were put in place on Saturday around the Chief Minister’s house and the Enforcement Directorate’s zonal office. This was done in preparation for the scheduled questioning of CM Hemant Soren by federal agency investigators. The inquiry is related to a money laundering case connected to an alleged land scam.
ED officials are set to question CM Hemant Soren at his residence around noon in connection with the case. Barricades have been set up outside both the ED office and the CM’s residence.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Ranchi, Chandan Kumar Sinha informed PTI that over 1,000 security personnel have been deployed, ensuring a three-layer security arrangement. The Ranchi administration has taken measures to secure the probe agency’s office and CM House to prevent any untoward incidents.
Traffic restrictions will be in place near the CM’s residence until the questioning concludes, according to the official. Ranchi SSP, city SP, and Sadar DSP are actively monitoring the security and law and order situation. Water cannon and fire brigade vehicles are stationed near the CM’s residence, while barricades have been set up at three locations around the CM House. Security forces are stationed at every chowk to manage any potential agitation.
The agency requested the chief minister’s availability for questioning between January 16 and January 20 through a letter dated January 13. In response, CM Hemant Soren informed the ED that his statement could be recorded on January 20 at his residence. The investigation focuses on an extensive racket involving the illegal change of land ownership by the mafia in Jharkhand, as per the ED.
Facing protests from the JMM and various tribal outfits, the probe agency reached out to Chief Secretary Lalbiaktluanga Khiangte, Director General of Police Ajay Kumar Singh, and Ranchi Senior Superintendent of Police. The agency requested their assistance in ensuring security and maintaining law and order during the ED officials’ visit to the CM’s residence for questioning, as per an official statement.
On Friday, numerous tribal organizations in Ranchi organized a protest march against the central agency. Hundreds of tribals participated, carrying traditional weapons such as bows and arrows, flags representing the ‘Sarna’ religion, and posters of CM Soren.
The posters in Hindi conveyed the message, ‘Stop harassing the tribal chief minister.’ During the protest, demonstrators also held a demonstration near Raj Bhavan, warning of another ‘Ulgulan’ (revolt) in Jharkhand if the ED did not cease its activities against CM Soren.
‘Ulgulan’ was a movement initiated by Birsa Munda in the 19th century, aimed at resisting the exploitation and discrimination faced by tribals from local authorities.
JMM executive president Hemant Soren, who has faced seven ED summonses related to a money laundering case tied to an alleged land scam, opted to skip the interrogations. In response, on January 16, the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) declared a nine-hour strike in Sahibganj district in protest against the ED’s summoning of Soren.
In connection with the case, the agency has arrested a total of 14 individuals, among them Chhavi Ranjan, a 2011-batch IAS officer. Ranjan had previously held positions as the director of the state Social Welfare Department and deputy commissioner of Ranchi.
Soren sought protection from ED actions by filing petitions before the Supreme Court and the Jharkhand High Court, terming the summonses “unwarranted.” However, both courts dismissed his petitions.