In one of the biggest ever seizures of cash, prima facie suspected to be related to the upcoming Bihar assembly elections and routed through hawala, sleuths of the income-tax department seized Rs 27 crore from different locations in Kolkata.
I-T sources said the money was seized from the Behala locality and three other locations in Kolkata and Siliguri. Two persons Thyagrajan and Martin have been detained. The two are believed to have confessed that the money was meant for use in the Bihar polls.
The I-T department seized the money as part of a search and seizure operation undertaken simultaneously at five locations in West Bengal on Thursday evening. The I-T department had got a tipoff that black money had been amassed to be sneaked into Bihar through West Bengal, preferably through the train route.
Acting swiftly on the lead, the I-T sleuths swooped down on the premises within hours of getting the lead.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) had on Wednesday alerted the I-T department to keep tabs on the hawala channel for transfer of illegal money into Bihar. It had specifically asked taxmen to take heightened vigil and keep a close watch on 55 of the 243 constituencies, which had been identified as cash sensitive. The assessment had been done on previous experiences, cash seizures and the district magistrates’ reports, based on intelligence inputs.
Confirming the seizure, additional chief electoral officer, Bihar, R Lakshmanan told HT: “The EC is alert to the suspected use of black money in the Bihar elections and various government agencies are maintaining utmost vigil to track it. The I-T department has seized the huge cash from different locations in West Bengal. Two persons have been detained and investigations into the case are on. Their call details would be examined and interrogation will reveal further about the modus operandi.”
The I-T department, said sources, was trying to ascertain the source of the seized cash.
Patna SSP Vikas Vaibhav also confirmed the seizure and said the money was apparently meant to be used in the Bihar polls.