Pankaj Mishra, arrested by the ED in a money laundering case, enjoys “political clout” as he is the political representative of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and “controls” illegal mining business in Soren’s assembly constituency through his accomplices, the central agency claimed on Wednesday.
This was stated in a statement by the Enforcement Directorate, which filed a charge sheet against Mishra and his two aides and local musclemen – Bachhu Yadav and Prem Prakash – on September 16 before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in the state capital, Ranchi.
The statement said the court took cognisance of the charge sheet or prosecution complaint on September 20.
Soren is an MLA from Barhait assembly seat in Sahibganj district.
“PMLA Investigation revealed that Pankaj Mishra, who enjoys political clout, being the representative of the Chief Minister, MLA from Barhait, Sahibganj, Jharkhand controls the illegal mining businesses as well as inland ferry services in Sahibganj and its adjoining areas through his accomplices,” the ED alleged “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 Sahibganj,” the statement claimed.
It said proceeds of crime amounting to about Rs 42 crore, “acquired” by the accused Pankaj Mishra have been identified.
Pankaj Mishra, Bachhu Yadav and Prem Prakash were arrested by the ED earlier and they are in judicial custody at present.
The agency said it has “identified” proceeds of crimes, relating to illegal mining in the state, to the tune of more than Rs 1,000 crore till now.
It said 47 search operations have been conducted in this case where Rs 5.34 crore in cash has been seized, bank balances worth Rs 13.32 crore have been frozen, an inland water vessel worth Rs 30 crore has been seized apart from five stone crushers, two trucks and two AK 47 assault rifles (these weapons were later claimed by Jharkhand police as its own).
The ED probe began after the agency raided Mishra and his alleged associates on July 8, covering 19 locations in Sahibganj, Barhait, Rajmahal, Mirza Chauki and Barharwa in Jharkhand in the case linked to alleged instances of illegal mining and extortion.
The searches were launched after the ED filed a case under the PMLA against Mishra and others in March, alleging that the former “illegally grabbed or amassed huge assets in his favour”.
It took cognisance of a state police FIR filed against Mishra at Barharwa police station in Sahibganj district and some other police complaints filed in illegal mining trade instances under various sections of the Arms Act, Explosive Substances Act, etc.