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Enforcement Directorate Arrests Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren's Aide Pankaj Mishra

Mishra was arrested under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Updated
India
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The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday, 19 July, arrested Pankaj Mishra, political aide of Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren in Ranchi, over money laundering charges linked to alleged illegal mining in the state, news agency PTI cited officials as saying.

The officials added that Mishra was arrested under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and claimed that he was "evasive in his replies" during questioning.

As per the report, Mishra is expected to be presented before a Ranchi court on Wednesday, where the ED will seek his custody.

Last week, the central agency had conducted raids at 18 locations in Jharkhand as part of a money-laundering investigation against Mishra, and some others.

Following the raids, deposits of Rs 11.88 crore, lying in 37 bank accounts belonging to Mishra and his associate Dahoo Yadav, were frozen.

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Apart from this, the agency also seized Rs 5.34 crore "unaccounted" cash, which they claimed was linked to "illegal mining" in the state.

What Did the ED Say?

"The evidence collected during the course of the investigation, including the statements of various persons, digital evidence and documents, revealed that the seized cash/bank balance is derived from illegal mining being rampantly done in the Sahibganj area including the forest area," the ED said.

Mishra was summoned by ED on 12 July. However, he failed to appear in front the agency saying that he was not well and was admitted to a hospital in Sahibganj. He got his second summon for 15 July but failed to appear before the agency on that day too.

The agency said it was probing a trail of Rs 100 crore of "proceeds of crime" generated from illegal mining operations in the state.

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When Mishra appeared before ED on Tuesday, he was asked about his business interests and sudden increase in his wealth in past few years. However, he told the agency that he is a political person, but has never misused his political power.

Questions about illegal mining and accumulation of assets in the name of his close associates were also asked from Mishra. However, he was 'evasive in his replies', ED added.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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Topics:  Jharkhand   ED   Illegal Mining 

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