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Jharkhand IAS Officer Appears Before ED For Questioning In Land Deals Case

IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Ranchi for questioning in connection with alleged illegal land deals, as the agency investigates a case involving forgery of land deeds and documents dating back to 1932. Lands of the poor and downtrodden were allegedly "usurped" by a group including land mafia, middlemen, and bureaucrats, and the ED has recovered fake seals and documents during searches, marking the second instance of a Jharkhand-cadre IAS officer coming under scrutiny by the agency after last year's arrest of IAS officer Pooja Singhal in a money laundering case.

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Enforcement Directorate (ED)
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IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Ranchi on Monday for questioning in connection with its investigation into alleged illegal land deals, an official said. Ranjan, a 2011-batch officer of Jharkhand cadre, reached the ED office around 10.30 am, he said. The officer was briefly questioned by the agency on April 13 as well, when searches were carried out in this case at his premises and those of some others in Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. The agency had arrested a total of seven people, including a Jharkhand government officer, after these raids.

An assistant registrar of assurances of West Bengal government based in Kolkata has also been asked to depose on May 2, ED sources had said. The action was taken under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the agency is looking at more than a dozen land deals, including one pertaining to defence land, wherein a group, including land mafia, middlemen and bureaucrats, allegedly "connived" in forging land deeds and documents from as early as 1932. Lands of the poor and the downtrodden were "usurped" as part of this fraud, ED sources had said.

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To launch its investigation under the PMLA, the federal agency took cognisance of a police FIR of forgery of some personal identification documents registered by the civic authorities concerned. The agency, according to the sources, has recovered a number of fake seals, land deeds and registry documents during the searches. This is the second case in which a Jharkhand-cadre IAS officer has come under the scanner of the ED. Last year, the ED had raided and arrested IAS officer Pooja Singhal in a money laundering case.

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