In a dramatic turn of events, former Jharkhand Chief Minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren found himself in the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) custody after a day-long questioning. The arrest follows a note Soren posted just a day ago on social media, asserting he "won't beg for compromise." His arrest is of particular significance given the ED's recent scrutiny of opposition leaders.
The State of Jharkhand currently faces political uncertainty as it woke up without a Chief Minister on February 1. While the JMM-Congress coalition proposed Champai Soren as the new leader, Hemant Soren's arrest adds complexity to the situation. Champai wrote to Governor CP Radhakrishnan, claiming unanimous support, yet the State still needs a clear leader.
Soren faces accusations in a case related to the "illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia" in Jharkhand. Over a dozen individuals, including an IAS officer, have been arrested in connection to this case. The ED filed a prosecution complaint in 2016, invoking the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Soren and others.
Soren, who denies money laundering allegations, released a video before his arrest, claiming he was targeted based on "fake papers" as part of a conspiracy. He has consistently skipped ED summons, challenging their legality and stating he had no obligation to comply.
In response to his arrest, Soren tendered his resignation to the Governor, a move made public by Jharkhand Congress President Rajesh Thakur. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Soren, withdrew a plea before the Jharkhand High Court and moved the Supreme Court, highlighting serious constitutional concerns.
The plea argues that Soren is unaware of the probe's scope due to the absence of the FIR copy, signing a statement under threat of arrest violates constitutional rights, and his arrest is politically motivated to coerce and intimidate the opposition. The Supreme Court is set to hear the matter on Friday.
Soren's arrest adds a layer of complexity to Jharkhand's political landscape, leaving many questions about the state's leadership unanswered.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News Writer, MIT ADT University