Illegal cash floods poll-bound Telangana

Illegal cash floods poll-bound Telangana

Police seize Rs75m on a single day, fear cash seizure could exceed that in 2014 election

Hyderabad: In a hugely successful drive against the misuse of money and power during elections, Hyderabad police have seized Rs75.1 million (Dh3.8 million) in cash, more than half of it in one single case.

With this, the total seizure of cash since the beginning of Telangana state assembly election process has gone up to Rs620 million. This is huge, compared to the Rs740 million seized during the entire process in 2014. As there is one more month left to go, for the polling on December 7, authorities fear that the cash pile up will continue and create a new record.

Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar told the media that when vehicles were checked, a stash of bundles of big currency notes — to the tune of Rs54.7 million — was found in a Volvo car in the posh Banjara Hills area. A cash counting machine and a revolver was also seized.

“Four persons were arrested as they were not able to produce any document to justify carrying such a huge amount of cash,” Kumar said, expressing concerns that the money had come through Hawala channel and was meant for bribing voters.

The four persons arrested include Ashish Kumar Ahuja, Sunil Kumar Ahuja, Bhabut Singh Raj Purohit and driver Mohammed Azam. The Commissioner’s Task Force, flying squad and a static surveillance team took part in the operation.

“We are questioning the arrested persons about the source and the destination of the money,” the commissioner said. They have told the police that the money was to be distributed among voters at different places in the state.

The Commissioner said that hawala operators opened bank accounts in the name of shell companies, falsifying the documents to mislead banks and the government. Huge amounts were transferred to these accounts, he said, adding that the Central Crime Station will investigate further.

More seizures

In another instance, the police seized Rs20 million from a vehicle on NTR Marg in the city. A smaller amount of Rs35 million was seized from Joshi Wada in the old city.

Police have informed the Income Tax and the Enforcement Directorate about the seizure of the big amounts; the latter are probing the money trail to identify those behind it.

With the latest seizure, the police have stepped up their vigil and were strictly checking vehicles at all the check posts.

Meanwhile, in a related development, a flying squad of the Election Commission broke the locks of Congress election office in Narasampet constituency of Warangal and searched the premises.

When the squad visited the place, the office was locked and they broke the locks to enter the place. But nothing objectionable was found.