#ED shows 201-page banquet hall WhatsApp chat
Ranchi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been granted an additional three days to interrogate former Chief Minister Hemant Soren in connection with a land scam case. The decision was made by the PMLA court in Ranchi, extending Soren’s custody following a plea from the ED for further interrogation.
This extension comes after the PMLA court had previously granted a five-day remand custody extension for Soren on February 7 in relation to a money laundering case associated with an alleged land scam. Meanwhile, the Jharkhand High Court had postponed the hearing of Soren’s petition challenging his ED arrest until February 12.
A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Shree Chandrashekhar and Justice Rajesh Kumar instructed the central agency to respond to Soren’s petition by February 9. As Soren’s initial 10-day remand ended, the ED produced him in court today, advocating for an additional four days of custody citing ongoing interrogation. However, the court granted only a three-day extension.
Sources within the Enforcement Directorate revealed that they presented 201 pages of WhatsApp chats between Soren and his friend, architect Binod Singh. These chats allegedly contain discussions about the acquisition of 8.5 acres of land in Bariatu near DAV School, suspected to have been obtained illegally by Soren.
During the proceedings, the ED asserted that scrutiny of the WhatsApp exchanges revealed plans for a proposed banquet hall, with the location matching the illegally acquired land. Additionally, an on-site survey conducted on February 10 affirmed the correspondence between the proposed banquet hall’s location and the investigated land parcel.
The ED further informed the court that Soren was asked to produce his mobile phone containing conversations with Binod Singh, but he failed to comply, providing unsubstantiated excuses. The agency accused Soren of attempting to conceal information related to the illicitly acquired properties, which are believed to be proceeds of crime.
Earlier evidence presented by the ED included a 539-page WhatsApp chat between Soren and Binod Singh, purportedly containing confidential information on multiple properties and other incriminating details, such as transfer postings and government record sharing.
The ED has alleged that Soren misused his authority to obstruct evidence related to the illegal acquisition of land near DAV School in Bariatu. The investigation continues as authorities delve deeper into the alleged malpractices surrounding this case.