The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday, 27 July, said that it has seized a Rs 30-crore inland vessel named Infralink-III, linked to Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren's arrested political aide Pankaj Mishra.
The agency further added that the vessel was used on Mishra's behest to allegedly transport illegally mined stone chips and stone-boulders from Jharkhand, reported news agency PTI.
Mishra was first arrested by ED on 19 July under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for alleged illegal mining in the state. He will stay in the probe agency's custody till 1 August after a six-day extension in his custody on 26 July.
"The vessel was being operated at the behest of Rajesh Yadav alias Dahu Yadav in collusion with Pankaj Mishra and others for transporting illegally mined stone chips/stone boulders," said ED.
It also filed an FIR on Tuesday, 26 July, against the owner of the vessel.
"It was operated illegally without having any permit from Sukargarh Ghat in Sahebganj (Jharkhand)," the probe agency added.
'Illegally' Operated Stone Crushers Also Siezed
ED also said that it had earlier seized two "illegally" operated stone crushers of Maa Amba Stone Works operated by Bishnu Yadav and Pavitra Yadav along with three trucks that were found at Mauza Majhikola in Sahebganj carrying illegally quarried stone chips/boulders without having any mining challans.
An illegal mine situated at Mauza Simaria, Sahebganj, operated by Bishnu Yadav and others has been identified, while another has been marked at Mauza Demba, Sahebganj where mining allegedly 'exceeded far beyond the leased area', the agency added.
"The quantification of the excess illegal mining done at the above site has been estimated around 37.5 million cubic feet which has remained undeclared and concealed. The processed value of the mined stone chips/boulders is estimated to be around Rs 45 crore," the ED said.
Earlier this month, the ED conducted raids at 18 locations in Jharkhand as part of a money-laundering investigation against Mishra and others.
Following the raids, deposits of Rs 11.88 crore, lying in 37 bank accounts belonging to Mishra and his associate Rajesh Yadav, were frozen. Apart from this, the agency also seized Rs 5.34 crore "unaccounted" cash, which they claimed was linked to "illegal mining" in the state.
The agency said it was probing a trail of Rs 100 crore of "proceeds of crime" generated from illegal mining operations in the state.
(With inputs from PTI.)