Pankaj Mishra, a political aide of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, was sent to the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for six more days on Tuesday, 26 July, reported news agency ANI. He has been arrested over money laundering charges linked to alleged illegal mining in the state.
Mishra was first arrested by the ED on 19 July under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and was produced before a special PMLA court on 20 July, which remanded him to six-day ED custody.
Earlier this month, the ED 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. Apart from this, the agency also seized Rs 5.34 crore "unaccounted" cash, which they claimed was linked to "illegal mining" in the state, reported news agency PTI.
What Led to Mishra's Arrest?
"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.
The agency said it was probing a trail of Rs 100 crore of "proceeds of crime" generated from illegal mining operations in the state.
When Mishra appeared before the ED on 19 July, he was asked about his business interests and sudden increase in his wealth in the 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 and ANI.)