North India

ED arrests Jharkhand minister Alamgir Alam in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate Wednesday arrested Congress leader and Jharkhand Rural Development Minister Alamgir Alam here in a money laundering case, days after a massive cash seizure from premises linked to his aide, official sources said.

Ranchi: The Enforcement Directorate Wednesday arrested Congress leader and Jharkhand Rural Development Minister Alamgir Alam here in a money laundering case, days after a massive cash seizure from premises linked to his aide, official sources said.

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The 70-year-old leader was taken into custody at the agency’s zonal office here under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He was interrogated for about six hours on the second day of questioning, the sources said.

He was grilled by the federal agency on Tuesday for over nine hours and his statement was also recorded.

Alam represents the Pakur seat in Jharkhand assembly and is also the parliamentary affairs minister.

He came under the ED radar following the recent arrest of his personal secretary and state administrative service officer Sanjeev Kumar Lal (52) and the latter’s domestic help Jahangir Alam (42) who were raided by the agency on May 6. The agency seized more than Rs 32 crore cash from a flat linked to them.

The minister had earlier told reporters that he was a “law-abiding” citizen as he sought to distance himself from the activities of Lal, saying he had worked with other ministers of the state government too in the past.

The money laundering investigation pertains to alleged irregularities and payment of “bribes” in the state rural development department.

While seeking the remand of the two arrested persons, the ED had informed a special PMLA court here that Lal collected “commission” on behalf of some influential people and that government officials from “top to bottom” in the rural department are involved in the alleged illegal cash payments nexus.

The total seizure of cash by the ED in this case has been recorded at around Rs 36.75 crore as the agency seized about Rs 3 crore from other locations including Rs 10.05 lakh from Lal’s place and Rs 1.5 crore from a contractor’s place.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is visiting the state as part of the Lok Sabha poll campaign, reacted to the instant case and told reporters that the BJP government will not allow people’s money to be devoured by Alamgir Alam.

Meanwhile, a doctor from the medical team that examined the health condition of Alam said: “His sugar level is normal while the blood pressure is on the higher side. He is a patient of hypertension. His heart condition is normal. We have prescribed medicines accordingly.”

Commenting on Alam’s arrest, the Congress said it is going to be “the last nail in the coffin of the BJP” in Jharkhand.

“The BJP is set to lose all the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state,” asserted Congress spokesperson Rakesh Sinha.

BJP national vice-president and in-charge for Jharkhand, Laxmikant Bajpai said: “As you sow, so you reap… Such people should be sent behind bars.”

The ED has said that the names of “senior bureaucrats and politicians” have emerged in the case and this was being investigated.

It had conducted searches at the rural development ministry in Ranchi too with Lal accompanying ED officials.

The money laundering case of September 2020 is based on an anti-corruption branch (Jamshedpur) case of Jharkhand Police and a March 2023 FIR filed by the economic offences wing of the Delhi Police against former chief engineer of the state rural works department Veerendra Kumar Ram and some others.

Ram was arrested by the ED last year.

Ram, the ED claimed, used to “collect commissions” in allocation of tender and execution of work and this commission of 1.5 per cent was “distributed” among his seniors and politicians.

It was alleged by the ED before the court that one such commission was handed over by Ram to Lal in September 2022. The ED has been investigating multiple money laundering cases involving high-profile people of the state and it has arrested former chief minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren, IAS officers Chhavi Ranjan and Pooja Singhal apart from other politically linked persons over the last 2-3 years.

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