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Huge deposits of suspicious cash in Northeast: IT dept

Last Updated : 19 October 2019, 14:24 IST
Last Updated : 19 October 2019, 14:24 IST
Last Updated : 19 October 2019, 14:24 IST
Last Updated : 19 October 2019, 14:24 IST

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In what could worry the Election Commission of India (ECI), the Directorate of Income Tax on Wednesday said a huge amount of suspicious cash has been deposited in banks in the Northeast, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

“Our independent intelligence gathering initiative has thrown up an alarming fact that huge amounts of suspicious cash have been deposited in banks, including in rural and co-operative banks in the weeks preceding the announcement of the election dates. Similarly, huge amounts of suspicious cash have also been withdrawn. These transactions so far have gone below the radar of the routine process of election expenditure monitoring. Ground level intelligence indicates it is highly possible that substantial part of the cash flow is being misused for vitiating free and fair elections,” deputy director of income tax (investigation), Arun Bhowmick said here, in a statement.

He said the preliminary findings have been brought to the notice of the ECI.

This comes a day after police in Arunachal Pradesh seized Rs. 1.80 crore from a vehicle near Pasighat, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a campaign rally. The recovery prompted Congress leader, Randip Singh Surjewala in New Delhi that the cash was meant for use by BJP in the run-up to the elections. Arunachal Pradesh chief minister and BJP leader Pema Khandu, however, denied the allegations. Elections for the two Lok Sabha seats and 60-member Assembly will be held on April 11 together.

Bhowmick said many district electoral officers (DEOs) are not following the ECI instruction that they should call for a report from banks about any cash transaction above Rs. 10 lakh and inform the IT Directorate. “The banks contacted by this directorate have expressed ignorance about the ECI guidelines. Since the notification of the elections on March 8 till March 31, only 14 of the 112 DEOs in the Northeast have sent reports about such transactions. But these reports are also substantially under-reported,” he said.

The directorate looks after issues about the possible use of money for elections in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, having 24 Lok Sabha seats. It has initiated inquiries into about 200 cases of similar bank transactions above Rs. 10 lakh.

“The modus operandi seems to be that cash is deposited in banks and may move undetected through banking channels or may stay dormant till required. The cash is withdrawn at the appropriate time and evaporates into the system. The initial investigation into data of 10-days transaction has raised apprehension that the banks are being possibly used as safe conduit to hide and move suspicious cash,” said the statement.

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Published 03 April 2019, 17:17 IST

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