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Cash Seizures in Jharkhand Stir Political Controversy

Unaccounted cash seizures in Jharkhand trigger a political showdown as Enforcement Directorate raids uncover 'unaccounted' funds, sparking allegations and counter-allegations between ruling and opposition parties.

By The Probe Staff
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Jharkhand cash seizure

Jharkhand cash seizure | Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

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The Enforcement Directorate launched extensive raids across Ranchi on Monday, uncovering large sums of 'unaccounted' cash allegedly belonging to a close associate of Jharkhand's rural development minister and Congress MLA, Alamgir Alam. The cash was recovered from the premises of the househelp of Sanjiv Lal, personal secretary of Alam. 

Addressing the media, Alam stated, "As of now, I haven't received any official communication regarding this matter." He further remarked, "Based on media reports, it seems the location in question is associated with the official private secretary assigned to me by the government." 

Alam is a prominent Congress figure, representing the Pakur constituency in the Jharkhand assembly. With over 20 crore rupees seized, the Enforcement Directorate has deployed counting machines to ascertain the precise amount. The recovered cash primarily consisted of Rs 500 notes, along with some jewellery. 

According to ED sources, these raids are part of an ongoing investigation into a money laundering case involving Virendra K Ram, the former chief engineer of the Jharkhand rural development department. The probe revolves around suspected irregularities in the implementation of various departmental schemes. Virendra K Ram was detained by the ED in February last year and the agency had said in a statement earlier that Ram had generated proceeds of crime through commissions from contractors in exchange for awarding them tenders.

These recent raids follow closely on the heels of a huge cash seizure last December, where over 300 crores were discovered in the residence and office of Congress MP from Jharkhand, Dhiraj Sahu. 

Political War of Words

Amidst these developments, the BJP has seized upon the cash discoveries in Jharkhand to its political advantage, directing criticism towards the INDI alliance. Deepak Prakash, former Jharkhand BJP President and current Rajya Sabha MP, weighed in on the ED's raids in Ranchi, lambasting the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress, and RJD for allegedly transforming the state into a realm of plunder, labeling it 'Lootkhand'. BJP spokesperson Pratul Shah Deo further accused the Congress of complicity in illicit financial activities following the ED's seizures, stating, 'Congress Ka Hath Kale Dhan Ke Sath'.

The Congress and the INDI alliance have consistently criticised the BJP-led central government for allegedly deploying agencies like the ED, the Income Tax department, and the CBI to target opposition figures. They contend that these actions, particularly during election seasons, represent selective targeting aimed at undermining political opponents. Moreover, questions have been raised about the integrity of BJP and its allies.

Critics ask why similar large-scale raids and recoveries are not being conducted in states governed by the BJP. The opposition has persistently accused the ruling party of misusing these agencies for political gain.