The Income Tax (I-T) Department on Wednesday said that it has seized Rs 1.48 crore cash allegedly stashed to bribe voters in Tamil Nadu's Theni district, where an assembly bypoll is scheduled on Thursday.
Unaccounted cash worth Rs 1.48 crore was seized. It was neatly packed in 94 packets and envelops on which the ward number, number of voters and the amount of Rs 300 per voter was written, I-T Director General (investigations) B Murali Kumar said, after the overnight raids concluded at 5:30 AM.
"All these wards are within the Andipatti assembly segment which is going to bypoll tomorrow," the officer added.
Kumar added that the premises belongs to a functionary of the AMMK party.
Infact, the AMMK party office functions from the ground floor of the premises, he said.
The department will send a report on the operation to the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Election Commission in New Delhi, a senior official said.
The tax department had launched a search at a store Tuesday night following inputs about suspected cash. During the raids, police had to open fire in the air to disperse supporters of the TTV Dhinakaran-led AMMK who objected to the action.
The tax official said the "sworn statement of the person present in the premises was recorded and he said that Rs 2 crore in cash was brought in there for distribution to voters in Andipatti panchayat union area on April 16."
Describing the raids, the official said initially a group of party workers overpowered the flying squad persons, comprising district EC authorities and I-T officials, standing guard outside the premises. The workers broke open the door and snatched some cash packets.
No one was injured in the firing, a senior official said. Four AMMK volunteers were detained in connection with the incident.
The miscreants dropped some cash packets and fled with a few. The remaining cash in 94 bundles (Rs 1.48 crore) was seized by the department along with the envelopes, he said.
A postal ballot paper for Andipatti assembly by-election, which was already marked for an AMMK candidate, was also found on the premises and seized, they said.
The district collector and the Superintendent of Police reached the spot and supervised the security, he said.
The district police has filed an FIR against a number of persons, he added.
Tamil Nadu votes on April 18 for the Lok Sabha as well.
Earlier, the Election Commission countermanded election to the Vellore parliamentary constituency on charges of illegal cash being used to lure voters there.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine