Jharkhand illegal-mining case: ED arrests 'middleman'; state warns of legal action if CM is 'linked' to the probe

Earlier, the ED had arrested Pankaj Mishra, a political aide of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, and Mishra's associate and muscleman Bachhu Yadav.
Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren (Photo | PTI)
Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren (Photo | PTI)

RANCHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested a man identified as Prem Prakash in connection with its ongoing money-laundering probe into an illegal mining case in Jharkhand, officials said on Thursday.

Prakash was taken into custody under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) around 2 am on Thursday and will be produced before a Ranchi court where the federal agency will seek his custody, they said.

This is the third arrest in the case.

Earlier, the ED had arrested Pankaj Mishra, a political aide of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, and Mishra's associate and muscleman Bachhu Yadav.

The agency had on Wednesday launched searches at premises linked to Prakash in Ranchi, apart from a few other places in Jharkhand, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Delhi-NCR, and recovered two AK-47 rifles and 60 bullets from a house linked to Prakash in the state capital here.

The weapons belonged to two Jharkhand Police constables, who were suspended after the ED made the recoveries.

Meanwhile, the Jharkhand government has warned media houses of taking legal action for news reports linking Chief Minister Hemant Soren's name to a person against whom ED conducted raids in multiple locations and recovered two AK series rifles.

The Enforcement Directorate raided various places in Jharkhand and several other states on Wednesday and recovered the rifles from a house here as part of an ongoing money-laundering investigation into alleged illegal mining in the state.

However, the Ranchi police later said that the weapons belonged to the force and two constables were suspended in this connection.

"Certain news reports by media platforms including a few national TV channels point to a misleading ploy and attempt to intentionally link the Chief Minister of Jharkhand to a private individual" against whom the ED raids were conducted, the CM's secretariat said in a statement on Wednesday.

Describing this as unfortunate and condemnable, the statement said if the state government comes across "any further malicious reports and tweets/ digital posts (by media platforms), it will be dealt with as per due legal provisions".

It said the Jharkhand government has provided cooperation to all investigations undertaken by central agencies and it supports freedom of the press.

The rifles were found in a house in Ranchi, owned by a person named Prem Prakash.

As it was raining, two constables while returning from duty on August 23 had left their weapons with Prakash's staff whom they know, Ranchi police said.

The two constables were suspended with immediate effect, police said.

The ED searches were carried out after fresh information came to the fore following the questioning of two persons arrested earlier in the case.

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