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I-T crackdown on black money
Vigil on cash with fliers in airports

Carrying cash over Rs 50,000 or gold more than a kg while flying could be a crazy idea in the election season. You could come under the scanner of the income tax department by doing so.

Following the directive of the Election Commission, the income tax (I-T) department has made three air intelligence units operational in Patna and Gaya (in the state) and Ranchi (in Jharkhand) to plug the flow of black money during the Lok Sabha polls. The department’s director-general (investigation), Bihar and Jharkhand, Ujjawal Choudhary, said on Thursday the intelligence units had been made operational to maintain a vigil on the passengers of chartered aircraft, private airlines or helicopters.

Besides, round-the-clock control rooms have been set up in Patna and Ranchi to pass on information about the movement of cash to be used for election purposes to the officers of the I-T department. Sixty-five officers and 130 inspectors have been deployed in the two neighbouring states for stopping the flow of black money.

Choudhary said the I-T department had made elaborate arrangements to monitor the movement of cash during the Lok Sabha elections on 40 seats in Bihar and 14 in Jharkhand. “We are trying to ensure quick action on any information to take a case to its logical conclusion. Any lapses on the part of the field officials would not be tolerated,” he said.

Provisions have been made to depute at least one I-T official in each Lok Sabha constituency of the two states. They would directly report to Choudhary on a day-to-day basis. He, in turn, would co-ordinate with the Election Commission officials.

“This time, our thrust is on gathering intelligence. The department has sought help of the local officials for the purpose,” Choudhary added.

Banks have been directed to report withdrawal of more than Rs 10 lakh from the account of any individual or firm. “Railway stations, hotels, cash couriers and other suspicious agencies likely to be used for transportation of undisclosed cash are under the close surveillance of the department,” Choudhary said.

The DG (investigation), Choudhary, said the details of the I-T returns of the candidates, who had contested the previous 2009 Lok Sabha polls in the two states, had been provided to the state electoral officers for necessary action. “The department officials had inquired about certain complaints about the contestants and findings have been sent to the authorities concerned,” he added.

Choudhary clarified that the job of the I-T department was limited. “We are supposed to apprise the Election Commission of the seizure of cash meant for bribing the voters, if any, and it is up to the commission to take action on the basis of evidence,” he said, adding that the expenses on organising rallies and election meetings above the limit would be probed if any complaint was lodged with the department.

People can inform the I-T department about any suspicious transaction dialling the toll free number 18003456349 in Patna and 18003456547 in Ranchi.

The state electoral officer (Bihar), Ajay B. Naik, has convened a joint meeting of the nodal officers of the I-T department, Sashastra Seema Bal, Railway Protection Force, Enforcement Directorate and other investigating agencies on Friday to chalk out a strategy to check the inflow of black money in the elections.

“The ECI is committed to check the movement of cash and unauthorised use of money power in elections,” an officer posted at the state electoral office said.


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