|The household items attached from the residence of JMM MLA Sita Soren at Dhurwa in Ranchi and (above) a CBI team outside Shibu Soren’s residence at Sector I-C in Bokaro steel city on Wednesday.
Pictures by Prashant Mitra and Pankaj Singh
Ranchi/ Bokaro, Feb. 19: Separate CBI teams this afternoon attached the property of absconding MLA Sita Soren in the capital and raided her father-in-law and JMM chief Shibu Soren’s Bokaro bungalow five days after the Supreme Court rebuked the investigating agency for failing to nab the state’s most powerful bahu wanted in the Rajya Sabha cash-for-vote scam.
However, today’s raids in Ranchi and Bokaro proved futile. An independent source close to the CBI termed them as “Godi mein baccha aur nagar mein dhindora (child in lap and search in the city)”, implying sleuths knew Sita’s whereabouts but did not act on it.
Around 7am, a CBI team led by sub-inspector Ram Kishore Sahu and Dhurwa thana in-charge Indramani Choudhary reached Sita’s empty F-34 quarters at Dhurwa, which was found locked. Attachment proceedings started at 12.12pm in the presence of magistrate Umesh Chandra Das.
The team seized an iron, fridge, almirah and single bed sheet; two wooden cots, sofa sets, LPG cylinders and gas stoves; three centre tables and wall fans; six airbags and suitcases; 10 double bed sheets, brass plates and steel pots; a dozen plastic chairs and 20 steel glasses. All items were deposited at Dhurwa thana.
In Bokaro, the CBI team raided Soren Senior’s bungalow, quarter No. 14 of Sector I-C, around 1.10pm and stayed inside for 40 minutes, quizzing relatives of the extended family and three servants.
“Her bail pleas stand rejected. We are making all attempts to arrest her. We request the media and people to cooperate,” a CBI official said as rumours swirled about her being in Calcutta and Bhubaneswar.
Special CBI court of R.K. Choudhary ordered the property attachment at Sita’s Dhurwa quarters after the apex court, hearing a February 14 bail plea of industrialist R.K. Agrawal accused of bribing her to buy his Rajya Sabha seat in 2012, censured the agency for not catching the MLA.
The CBI arrested Agrawal in May last year. Now in judicial custody, he is pleading for bail, opposed by the CBI. The bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik of the apex court observed that the CBI “catches soft targets and opposes their bail”, implying powerful ones stay out.
To avoid apex court ire, CBI joint director (Bihar-Jharkhand) A.K. Singh asked the agency’s state unit step up efforts to trace Sita.
CBI teams are not only fanning out in Jharkhand, but have approached Bengal and Odisha counterparts for help.
Sita’s father B.N. Manjhi, a former Indian Oil Corporation employee, who allegedly handled her kickbacks, is also missing. Sita’s husband, chief minister Hemant Soren’s elder brother Durga, died in 2009.
The JMM is tight-lipped about Sita’s three daughters, who are students.