Jharkhand illegal mining worth over ₹1,000 crore: ED charge sheet
Chief minister Hemant Soren’s aide and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Pankaj Mishra and his associates, including Prem Prakash, from whose residence two AK-47 rifles of Jharkhand police were recovered, have been named as prime accused in the charge sheet
The Enforcement Directorate has alleged in its charge sheet that the proceeds of crime in the Jharkhand illegal mining case that it is probing is to the tune of over ₹1,000 crore.
Chief minister Hemant Soren’s aide and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Pankaj Mishra and his associates, including Prem Prakash, from whose residence two AK-47 rifles of Jharkhand police were recovered, have been named as prime accused in the charge sheet.
“The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has filed a prosecution complaint (charge sheet) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, before the special court at Ranchi against Pankaj Mishra, Bachhu Yadav and Prem Prakash. The court was pleased to take the cognizance of the same on September 20,” the probe agency said in a statement on Wednesday.
The agency further said that during the investigation, searches were conducted at 47 locations across India, resulting into the seizure of Rs. 5.34 crore in cash, freezing of bank balances amounting to ₹13.32 crore, freezing of an inland vessel MV Infralink -III, five stone crushers, two Hyva trucks, besides the seizure of incriminating documents along with two AK-47 assault rifles.
ED had arrested Pankaj Mishra on July 19, Bachhu Yadav on August 4 and Prem Prakash on August 5. All three are currently in judicial custody.
“To date, ED has identified proceeds of crime relating to illegal mining to the tune of more than ₹1000 crore in this case,” the statement said.
The probe agency has accused Pankaj Mishra of controlling the illegal mining business in the area.
“Investigation revealed that Pankaj Mishra, who enjoys political clout, being the representative of the chief minister and MLA from Barhait in Sahebganj, controls the illegal mining businesses as well as inland ferry services in Sahebganj and its adjoining areas through his accomplices. He exercises considerable control over the mining of stone chips and boulders as well as installation and operations of several crushers set up across various mining sites in Sahebganj,” the agency said.
Proceeds of crime amounting to ₹42 crore acquired by the accused (Pankaj Mishra) have been identified to date, the ED said, adding that further investigation in the case is in progress.
JMM spokesperson Manoj Pandey said, “This is a sub judice matter, so it won’t be right to comment on the legal aspects of it. We have full faith in judiciary. However, people of the state are convinced that this entire exercise is to malign the image of our popular chief minister Hemant Soren.”