M A I N   N E W S

I-T raids at houses of Soren’s PA in J’khand
Tribune News Service

Ranchi/New Delhi, February 16
Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren’s personal assistant (PA) Manohar Lal Pal’s residences here and in Jamshedpur were raided by sleuths of the Income Tax Department today. At the time of raids, Pal was present at his Kanke Road (Ranchi) residence.

Officially, it was claimed that the raids were part of the Income Tax Department’s second phase searches at over 60 places throughout India, including Jharkhand, in connection with the Rs 4,000-crore money laundering scam involving state’s former Chief Minister Madhu Koda, now a Lok Sabha Member. At present, Koda is in jail.

Besides Jharkhand’s various cities and towns, which include Ranchi, Chaibasa and Jamshedpur, sources said, the raids were also being carried out in Ara, Patna, Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai and Noida (UP), near Delhi.

Shibu Soren’s confidants, however, said through these raids on his trusted personal assistant, the Centre Government was trying to browbeat the CM to force him toe its line, especially in the sensitive Naxal issue, and create “political instability” in the state. Pal is Shibu Soren’s old associate. Soon after coming to power around two months ago, the CM had said, “Naxals are my brothers and sisters!”

The CM refused to make any comment on the I-T raids on Pal’s residences, as he was busy holding meetings with top police and administration officials regarding the Maoists’ demands to ensure safe release of Block Development Officer (BDO) Prasant Layak, who was kidnapped from East Singhbhum district some days ago.

Besides Pal, properties of two former chiefs of the Jharkhand electricity board, VN Pandey and SM Verma, were also raided. The raids were also conducted at the Patna residence of former Indian Administrative Service official, Jaishankar Tiwari, who retired last year. Tiwari worked as the Secretary (Mines) during the previous tenure of Shibu Soren. Tiwari also held the post during the regime of CM Madhu Koda.

It is being alleged that Pal and former bureaucrats came under the IT scanner in connection with the Ghatkuri mines’ lease given to six private parties during Shibu Soren’s brief second stint as the Chief Minister.

Director of the Income Tax Department Ujjwal Choudhary refused to give reasons and details of the raids, but confirmed that “these were being carried out across the country at about 60 places”.

The ED had booked Koda and seven others in connection with financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore. He was arrested by the Jharkhand Vigilance Bureau on November 30 and is in judicial custody these days.

The investigative agencies are still looking for his two close associates, Manoj Punamiya, a Mumbai businessman, and Binod Sinha, once a tractor mechanic in Jharkhand’s Deoghar district.



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