Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Tuesday agreed to record his statement before the Enforcement Directorate on January 31 in connection with an investigation into a money laundering case, The Indian Express reported.

The case pertains to an alleged land scam linked to the ownership of a 7.16-acre land parcel in Ranchi, which the central agency claims was acquired through the “proceeds of crime” involving illegal sale of Army land.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader told the central agency in an email that its insistence on recording a statement on or before January 31 was “politically motivated”.

“You are well aware that the Budget Session of the Legislative Assembly will be held between 2nd and 29th February 2024 and the undersigned will be pro-occupied with preparations for the same apart from other prior scheduled official engagements,” Soren wrote.

He added: “In these circumstances, your insistence to record a further statement of the undersigned on or before 31st January 2024 rocks of malice and reveals your political agenda to disrupt the functioning of the State Government and prevent an elected representative of the people from discharging his official duties.”

On Monday, the central agency searched the chief minister’s Delhi home and seized Rs 36 lakh, a sport utility vehicle and some “incriminating” documents, PTI quoted unidentified officials as saying.

As Soren was not present at the residence, the Enforcement Directorate reportedly “intimated the Delhi Police… and asked its senior officers to convey to district-level staff to strengthen and install more pickets at border points”, according to The Indian Express.

Following this, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha stated that the agency’s “sudden” visit to the chief minister’s residence was an insult to Soren and the people of Jharkhand.

“Have constitutional institutions like ED become puppets in the hands of BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party],” the party said. “Will governments be formed or fallen in the states now through these agencies? Can the central government do anything to the state chief ministers when they visit the country’s capital? Will now the Chief Ministers of different states of the country have to remain limited to their respective limits?”

On Tuesday, Soren convened a meeting of all MLAs of Jharkhand’s ruling coalition at his residence in Ranchi.

Meanwhile, Babulal Marandi, the BJP’s state unit chief, claimed on social media that Soren had been missing for the last two days.

“It is a serious issue that the director general of police and the intelligence department of the state are not aware of the location of the chief minister,” wrote Marandi. “Whoever gives correct information about the chief minister will be given a suitable reward from our side.”

The Enforcement Directorate had last week issued fresh summons to Soren, calling him in for questioning on January 29 or January 31. This came two days after he was questioned for seven hours by the central agency at his official residence in Ranchi on January 20. His statement was recorded under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Soren had previously skipped seven summons issued by the central agency since August 14 and had agreed to the questioning when the eighth summons was served.

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