The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted raids on Wednesday in connection with an alleged liquor scam at the properties of Rohit Uraon, the son of Jharkhand’s minister Rameshwar Uraon, and several others. In response, the Congress party, an ally of the powerful Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in the state, targeted the BJP-led central government. The Congress accused the BJP government at the center of engaging in “political vendetta” at the behest of I.N.D.I.A, ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections.
The investigation by the ED into the alleged liquor scam in Jharkhand has led to searches at nearly 34 locations in the state, including the capital Ranchi, Dumka, Deoghar, and Godda districts. Several of these locations are reportedly linked to senior Congress leader and Finance Minister Rameshwar Uraon’s son Rohit Uraon. Rajesh Thakur, the President of Jharkhand Congress, questioned whether the ED was conducting similar searches across the entire country or if liquor was being sold only in Jharkhand, Delhi, and Chhattisgarh. Thakur accused the BJP-led central government of targeting the opposition alliance I.N.D.I.A to tarnish its image before the 2024 elections, apart from any legitimate investigative action.
Thakur demanded that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) clarify its stance first. He questioned whether the ED was conducting such raids all over the country or if liquor was only being sold in Jharkhand, Delhi, and Chhattisgarh. In the process of targeting the center, Thakur sought to know if there have been no scams in the BJP-ruled states.
Officials from the central investigation agency are currently conducting searches at approximately 34 locations in Jharkhand, including Ranchi, Dumka, Deoghar, and Godda. Rohit Uraon’s premises are also being covered due to the proximity of his residence to that of his father, Rameshwar Uraon, the senior Congress leader and the Finance Minister. Some of the properties belonging to liquor traders’ business and residential premises are also being searched.
Thakur mentioned that the ongoing investigation is being conducted under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Rameshwar Uraon, who holds the finance, planning, and commerce portfolio in the Jharkhand cabinet, represents the Lohardaga (ST) Assembly seat. The retired IPS officer of the 1972 batch has previously worked as a Cabinet Minister during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tenure.
On August 15, Chief Minister Hemant Soren had raised questions about the timing of the ED’s summons. The ED had issued a notice to Soren to be present at the agency’s office on August 14 for registering his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) related to the PM CARES fund. However, he had not appeared at the agency’s office, stating that the ED was so prompt that it had chosen the evening of August 14, the eve of Independence Day, to summon the Chief Minister.
Soren had alleged in a letter to the ED that he was being targeted because he refused to form an alliance with a certain political party at the center. He has asked the ED to withdraw the summons, asserting that his assets were not acquired through illegal means.