₹32.5 crore cash in Ranchi house belongs to arrested Jharkhand minister: ED

₹32.5 crore cash in ranchi house belongs to arrested jharkhand minister: ed

A huge amount of "unaccounted" cash which was recovered by the Enforcement Directorate from premises of Sanjiv Lal, allegedly an aide of Jharkhand minister Alamgir Alam, in Ranchi, on May 6.

RANCHI: The ₹32.5 crore cash seized from a house in Ranchi on May 6 belongs to Jharkhand minister Alamgir Alam, 70, who was arrested on Wednesday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a special court on Thursday in its request to seek his custody for interrogation.

The court sent the parliamentary affairs and rural development minister to Birsa Munda Central Jail for a day. It also granted custody of the senior Jharkhand Congress leader to ED for six days beginning Friday.

There was no official information regarding the questions being asked of the state minister, who is the second minister of Jharkhand after former chief minister Hemant Soren to face ED question.

ED, on May 6, launched searches at various locations in Ranchi, and seized ₹32 crore and ₹3 crore in cash at separate places, all in ₹500 notes. The following day, the agency arrested the minister’s aide Sanjeev Lal and his help, Jahangir Alam.

Alam was arrested on money laundering charges on Wednesday after being questioned for nearly 15 hours over two days in connection with alleged irregularities in the state’s rural development department and purported corruption involving contractors appointed for the implementation of government schemes during the regime of the state’s former chief engineer in the rural development department Virendra Ram, who was arrested in February 2023 for amassing ₹100 crore in wealth.

The probe agency said the minister’s role was pivotal in the ongoing investigation of a tender scam and cited Virendra Kumar Ram’s alleged statement during his interrogation that 1.5% of the project cost was collected from successful bidders.

“...Ram used to collect commissions in terms of allocation of tender and execution of work and the said commission/ fixed share of 1.5% was distributed to Minister Alamgir Alam,” the agency said.

ED, which sought Alamgir Alam’s custody for 15 days, said it found official documents, which would have been in the possession of the minister’s private secretary Sanjeev Kumar Lal, along with cash from the residence of his employee, Jahangir Alam. This established that Sanjeev Kumar Lal was using this house for keeping documents, cash and other belongings related to the minister, it said.

ED also told the designated court for cases under the money laundering law that the entire process of collecting and distribution of commission was executed by assistant engineers posted at the Rural Development Special Division and Rural Works Department.

“Further, it was also found that the share of minister Alamgir Alam was 1.5% of the allocated tender amount and also in one of the instances it was also found that Alamgir Alam has received his share of commission of Rs. 3 crores which was sent by one assistant engineer in September 2022 which was facilitated by one of the close aides of minister Alamgir Alam.”

Alam, the Congress lawmaker from Pakur, is a key leader from the Santhal Parganas division in the state, where three Lok Sabha seats are due to go to the polls, on June 1. The party has, however, kept its distance from him since the first ED raids on his OSD Sanjeev Lal on May 6. He did not attend rallies by Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on May 14 and senior party leader Rahul Gandhi on May 7.

However, the party labelled his arrest “political vendetta”.

“After four phases of elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi knows they are losing the polls. This is a desperate attempt to disturb the elections by proxy. He is a major force in Santhal Parganas where elections are due in the seventh phase. This arrest is sheer vendetta,” said Jharkhand Congress spokesperson Rakesh Sinha said on Wednesday.

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