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Hemant Soren got assistance of a revenue official in Ranchi 'land scams': ED

New Delhi: Jailed former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren took the assistance of a revenue official and custodian of original government records, namely Bhanu Pratap Prasad, in his alleged "activities linked to illegal occupation, acquisition or possession of proceeds of crime in form of landed properties", said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday.
According to the ED, Prasad additionally abused his authority by aiding numerous individuals in their endeavours associated with unlawful occupation, acquisition, and possession of assets obtained through criminal means, particularly in the form of real estate properties.
ED's statement came after its Jharkhand's Ranchi unit filed a prosecution complaint against Soren and four others in one of the cases of land scam being investigated under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, for acquiring, possessing and concealing the proceeds of crime, like an immovable property measuring 8.8 acres at Bariyatu in Ranchi.
ED further said its investigation in "land scam cases has revealed the role of one of the accused persons, Bhanu Pratap Prasad."
"ED investigation revealed that a racket of land mafia is active in Jharkhand which used to forge the land records in Ranchi. It is also revealed that ownership records of lands have also been forged to extend favours to the said land mafia," the agency said.
Subsequently, ED said, based on forged land records, such land parcels are sold to other persons.
"Original land records of ownerships are either tampered or concealed to facilitate unlawful acquisition, possession and use of such properties," it said.
Four other persons namely Prasad, Binod Singh, Hilarious Kachhap and Raj Kumar Pahan have also been arraigned as accused in the ED's prosecution complaint for their roles in aiding and abetting Hemant Soren in his unlawful acquisition and possession of the said property.
The PMLA Court, Ranchi took cognizance of the said prosecution complaint on Thursday.
ED further said, "The afore-said property worth Rs 31 crore has also been provisionally attached by it."
ED initiated a money laundering investigation in cases of land scams based on multiple First Information Reports (FIRs) registered by Jharkhand Police against several persons including government officials.
The ED had earlier carried out 51 searches and nine surveys in such cases and incriminating evidence like forged seals of Land Revenue Department, forged land deeds, records of distribution of Proceeds of Crime, photographs of doing forgery and evidence of giving bribes to Government officials were seized.
Searches have resulted in the recovery and seizure of Rs 1.25 crore of cash and further freezing of Rs 3.56 crore of bank account balances.
"During one of the searches at a premise in Delhi under the use and control of Hemant Soren, cash amounting to Rs 36.34 lakh, one BMW luxury car and incriminating documents were seized," said the ED in a statement.
ED had earlier provisionally attached tainted land parcels worth Rs 236 crore in land scam cases.
To date, 16 accused persons including Hemant Soren, Chhavi Ranjan, IAS (Ex-DC, Ranchi), Bhanu Pratap Prasad (Revenue Sub-Inspector), Amit Kumar Agarwal, Prem Prakash have been arrested in these cases.
Prosecution complaints in land scam cases have earlier been filed on June 12, 2023, and September 1, 2023, by the ED.

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