The Enforcement Directorate(ED) on Friday said it has attached three land parcels worth more than Rs 161 crore in Ranchi as part of an ongoing money laundering probe linked to a case of “land grabbing and fraud” in Jharkhand. The ED also filed a fresh charge sheet in the case before a special court in Ranchi. The first prosecution complaint was filed in this case on June 12.
The federal agency has summoned Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren for questioning in this case twice but he has not appeared before it and is understood to have filed a petition before the Supreme Court against the ED action.
Soren is understood to have been issued fresh summons for next week. However, there was no confirmation.
Three land parcels at Cheshire Home Road, Pugru and Siram, all in Ranchi, with a commercial value of Rs 161.64 crore have been provisionally attached under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the ED said in a statement.
These land parcels, it said, were “mutated fraudulently in favour of land mafias in connivance with the officers of the land revenue department”, it alleged.
This is the second attachment order issued in this case and with the latest action, the total attachment of properties is valued at Rs 236 crore.
The agency has arrested 14 people in this case including 2011-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Chhavi Ranjan who had earlier served as the director of the state social welfare department and the deputy commissioner of Ranchi.
The probe relates to the ED alleging that a “huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by mafia was going on in Jharkhand.”
“These criminal elements used to forge the legacy records in Kolkata and Ranchi and ownership records of land have also been forged by the unscrupulous government officers to extend favours to the said land mafia,” it alleged.
Subsequently, it said, on the basis of forged land records, such land parcels are sold to other persons.
The agency said it has carried out 46 search and survey operation in this case and has claimed to have seized forged seals of land revenue department, forged land deeds, records of distribution of “proceeds of crime”, photographs of forgery and evidence of giving “bribes” to government officials among others.