Rs 21 crore in cash, bullion seized
Kolkata: The Income Tax (I-T) Department and other agencies have so far seized over Rs 21.11 crore of unaccounted cash, jewellery and bullion from Bengal after the announcement of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, an official said here on Thursday.
Of the total seizure so far, about Rs 10 crore in unlawful cash has been recovered in this year's drive in the state, which is higher that the around Rs 8 crore cash seized during the two-month effort before the 2014 general elections, I-T sleuths said.
"Our drive aimed to curb black money flow during elections. I-T officials and other agencies have so far recovered over Rs 21.11 crore of unaccounted cash, jewellery and bullion after the declaration of the elections. The seizures were done mostly in Kolkata and also in Siliguri and Balurghat," said I-T investigation wing's principal director Ashish Verma.
The seizures were made from businesses, cash handlers and hawala operators, he said.
"With our intensifying efforts, we have unearthed nearly Rs 10 crore in cash in just 15 days of operation after the announcement of polls. Last time, we had recovered around about Rs 8 crore in cash," Verma added.
He also said the I-T officials have been conducting a search operation for over two months at a private vault having about 649 lockers at central Kolkata's Vardaan Market basement and that the operation will get over on Thursday.
"In this operation, we have so far seized Rs 5.16 crore of unaccounted cash and jewellery and bullion worth Rs 13.62 crore," he said.
"Of the about Rs 12 crore worth of jewellery and bullion seized so far after the announcement of elections, around Rs 8-9 crore worth of specious metals were recovered from the Vardhan market operation," Verma said.
The I-T Department has deployed over 200 of its officers and employees across West Bengal, Sikkim and Andaman and Nicobar Island to monitor election expenditure and flow of black money. The department will also have dedicated teams for each of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bengal which will have seven-phase polls.