Jharkhand cash haul: ED arrests minister’s secretary, latter’s domestic help

Ranchi, May 7 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Jharkhand minister Alamgir Alam’s personal secretary Sanjiv Lal and the latter’s domestic help on Tuesday following a recovery of more than Rs 32 crore in cash from a flat linked to them, official sources said.

The duo were taken into custody under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) following their overnight questioning, the sources said.

They said the two did not co-operate in the investigation and were “evasive” to the questions asked by the ED officials.

As part of a money-laundering investigation into alleged irregularities in the state rural development department, the ED on Monday raided a two-bedroom flat in Ranchi that was allegedly occupied by Lal’s domestic help, Jehangir Alam.

The agency unearthed more than Rs 32 crore in cash from the flat located at the Gadikhana chowk, apart from Rs 3 crore from some other premises that were searched.

The total cash recovery stands at Rs 35.23 crore, the sources said.

Jharkhand Rural Development Minister Alam (of the Congress) has denied any wrongdoing on his part.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned the cash haul at his poll rallies in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha on Monday, saying “mounds of cash” were seized by the ED in Jharkhand, and wondered why such people are “close to the Congress’s first family”.

“They have made the worker’s house a godown of corruption. This is not the first time as a bigger seizure was made from an MP (in Jharkhand) earlier also and it was such a big cache that even machines were tired of counting,” Modi said at Vemagiri in Andhra Pradesh.

The Congress and other opposition parties have accused the BJP-led Centre of misusing agencies like the ED to target their leaders.

The federal agency also seized from the flat an official communication from May 2023 written by the Ranchi unit of the ED to the Jharkhand chief secretary seeking an independent probe and the registration of an FIR into the “revelations” of alleged bribes taken from contractors who worked for the state rural development department.

These purported disclosures were made by former chief engineer of the rural works department Veerendra Kumar Ram, who was arrested by the ED in the case last year.

Some recommendation letters written by MLAs and other high-profile people to Alam for favourable transfers and postings of state government officials have also been found from the said premises, the sources had said.

The searches in which this huge cash recovery was made were linked to a money-laundering case against Ram.

“Veerendra Kumar Ram, posted as chief engineer in the Rural Works Department in Ranchi, had generated proceeds of crime in the name of commission from contractors in lieu of allotment of tenders to them,” the agency had alleged in a statement in April last year, after it attached the officer’s assets worth Rs 39 crore.

“The proceeds of crime thus generated were used by Veerendra Kumar Ram and his family members to live a very lavish lifestyle,” it said.

The money-laundering case against Ram stems from a complaint filed by the Jharkhand Anti-Corruption Bureau.

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