TN poll: Rs Five crore seized from roof of a bus

Crisp notes totalling Rs 5.11 crore kept in five travel bags on the roof of a private bus in Tiruchirappali was seized in the wee hours of on Tuesday.

Updated: Apr 05, 2011, 20:06 PM IST

Chennai: Crisp notes totalling Rs 5.11 crore
kept in five travel bags on the roof of a private bus in
Tiruchirappali was seized in the wee hours of on Tuesday in the
biggest haul of unaccounted money which has touched Rs 25
crore since polls were announced in Tamil Nadu last month.

The seizure was effected by a woman officer of the
Revenue department who climbed up the stationary bus in the
dead of night after getting a tip off from police.

With elections just eight days away, the hard cash was
suspected to be meant for distribution to woo voters in a
state where money power is in full play.
The cash, kept in travel bags on the roof of the bus,
was seized by Income Tax sleuths around 2 AM and nobody came
forward to claim it, state Chief Electoral Officer Praveen
Kumar told reporters here. Elections, which were announced on
March one, are due on April 13.
With this, the EC had so far seized around Rs 25 crore
of unaccounted cash during intensified checks on vehicles and
premises as part of measures to prevent use of money power in
the polls. Several people have been also arrested.

The biggest single seizure earlier was made at Madurai
last month, where Rs 3.5 crore was recovered.

The Income Tax department has launched investigation to
ascertain the source of the money seized from the bus in
Tiruchirapalli, about 350 km from Chennai.

"S Sangitha, a Revenue Development Officer (RDO), got
a call from a policeman at midnight that almost Rs 20 crore of
illegal cash was stashed for illegal distribution in a
vehicle. Sangitha reached the spot with her driver and began
looking for the suspected vehicle," a top officer, involved in
the later part of the operation, said.

She checked a Innova car but nothing was found from the
vehicle. Then she reached Ponnagar near VVV theatre and found
a stationary bus with registration number TN 46 K 2829 parked
at an isolated place.

Sangitha, who had also summoned a CRPF constable posted
nearby, then herself climbed atop the bus and found crisp
currencies stuffed inside gunny bags, the officer said.

She then asked her driver to bring the bus to her
office. The bags were unloaded and an Income Tax team then
reached her office and counted the money. A total of Rs
5,11,27,000 was found, the officer said.

Praveen Kumar said no one had staked claim so far for
the cash seized since last month.

Money power is in full play in Tamil Nadu ahead of the
hotly contested elections and the Chief Election Commissioner
S Y Quraishi himself said it is a "big challenge."

"The flow of money in Tamil Nadu during elections is a
big challenge. Cash seizures are not enough," he had said.

Amid fears that cash will be used to buy votes, the
Election Commission has mounted a strict vigil.

The Income Tax department has formed around 70 teams to
monitor movement of hard cash. The Election Commission had
formed flying squads for carrying out searches on vehicles and
premises in a bid to prevent the use of money power in the
polls.

PTI