Mumbai/Jammu: With Lok Sabha elections approaching, the Income Tax Department (IT) has stepped up vigil and intelligence to monitor movement of cash and valuables intended to influence voters, official sources said here on Thursday.
For starters, the department has set up a round-the-clock control room in Mumbai at its Investigation Directorate to keep tabs on illegal movements of huge quantities of cash/valuables and prevent their illegal use in the run-up to the elections.
Besides, the Director-General, Investigations, has geared up the intelligence machinery to track, detect and stop such physical movement of cash and other valuables in Mumbai.
It has also roped in citizens in this effort by a issuing a public appeal on Thursday and setting up helpline numbers - 1800221510/022-22820562 and 9372727823/24 (WhatsApp).
"In order to ensure free and fair elections and curb the use of black money in elections, vigilant citizens are requested to pass only any information regarding stocking, movement and distribution of black money, cash, gold, silver, etc, on the helpline numbers," the department appealed.
During election season, the country's commercial capital develops a dubious reputation with rumours of staggering amounts of cash and valuables surreptitiously ferried around to influence voters.
IT sources say besides the traditional modes of big and small vehicles, even the suburban and long-distance trains are known to have been used to move around cash/valuables, besides through shady couriers or 'angadias' both within and outside the city, many a times avoiding detection.
Attempting to remain a step ahead in the cat-and-mouse game, scamsters in the past have resorted to some very innovative methods to transport cash/valuables undetected over long distances to the intended beneficiaries, the sources said.
Raids in Jammu, Srinagar
The IT Department teams carried out simultaneous raids at over 30 places in Jammu and Srinagar on Thursday, based on IT surveys carried out earlier in the state, an official said.
Over 30 establishments including hotels, offices and residential premises of people of some prominent business houses were raided in Jammu while a hotel and offices of a businessman were searched in Srinagar.
The raids started early on Thursday and continued till the afternoon. Sniffer dogs and hi-tech electronic equipment were also used by the IT officials during these raids.
Sources said records, unaccounted cash and other evidence supporting undisclosed wealth had been seized, but there was, however, no official word about the seizures made during these raids.