The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested seven people, including a government officer, after it conducted raids in Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal in connection with a money laundering investigation linked to an alleged illegal land sale case, official sources said Friday.
Those taken into custody have been identified as Afshar Ali, Imtiaz Ahmed, Pradeep Bagchi, Md Saddam Hussain, Talha Khan, Faiyaz Khan and Bhanu Pratap Prasad.
Prasad is a circle inspector in Jharkhand government while the rest have been dubbed by ED sources as “middlemen” involved in the case.
The seven have been arrested under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.
The raids were launched on Thursday at 22 places in the three states, including at the premises of 2011-batch Jharkhand cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Chhavi Ranjan, who served as a deputy commissioner in state capital Ranchi earlier.
Ranjan was questioned by the agency during the searches.
The action was taken under the provisions of the anti-money laundering law and the agency is looking at more than a dozen land deal cases, including a defence land, where a group involving land ‘mafia’, middlemen and bureaucrats allegedly “connived” in forging land deeds and documents from as early as 1932.
The lands of the poor and downtrodden were “usurped” as part of this land fraud, ED sources said.
A police FIR of forgery of some personal identification documents registered by the local municipal corporation was taken cognisance by the federal agency to launch its investigation under the PMLA.
The agency, according to the sources, has recovered a number of fake seals, land deeds and registry documents during the searches.
BJP leader Babulal Marandi had on Thursday issued a statement and sought to know what action will Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren take after the latest action of the ED. This is the second case where a Jharkhand cadre IAS officer has come under the scanner of the ED. Last year, the ED had raided and arrested IAS officer Pooja Singhal in a money laundering case.