A whopping sum of Rs. 10.38 crore unaccounted cash was seized during a search operation conducted by election officials in Bellary and Hospet early on Saturday. Of this, Rs. 9 crore was recovered from the residence of a moneylender in Bellary city.

Following information that huge sums of money were being distributed to lure voters, a team of officials — led by Assistant Commissioner Anirudh Shravan, Additional Deputy Commissioner Venkatesh, Additional Superintendent of Police C.K. Baba and Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax Guruprasad — raided three houses belonging to a moneylender Babulal Parasram Puria in Ganesh colony.

Amlan Aditya Biswas, Deputy Commissioner and District Election Officer, and Chetan Singh Rathore, Superintendent of Police, told presspersons here on Saturday that Rs. 8.52 crore cash was found stashed in almirahs and trunks in one of the residences. Besides, Rs. 20 lakh in cash was found in the office of the son of Mr. Babulal and Rs. 4.80 lakh in another residence. Fixed deposit receipts, including Kisan Vikas Patra, National Savings Scheme of Rs. 4.8 crore, cheques worth Rs. 5 crore, due to be encashed, records pertaining to hundreds of acres of land in Bellary and Sandur taluks were also found during the search.

Mr. Biswas said there was evidence to prove that Mr. Babulal was lending money at a certain rate of interest to political parties. A cheque issued by a BSR Congress candidate (Muralikrishna), to repay the loan taken in the previous election, was also found. He said that a couple of biscuit-sized gold pieces too were found at the residence.

The police have registered a case and are investigating to ascertain the political parties, which could have availed themselves of the money from the accused.

In another incident, the model code of conduct team, led by Hospet Assistant Commissioner Sunil Kumar, found Rs. 1 crore in cash being loaded into a car from a business office of an individual. Further searches of his house enabled the team to seize an additional cash of Rs. 22 lakh. The amount was handed over to the Income Tax Department and further inquiry is on. Mr. Biswas said that no arrests had been made in these two incidents.

In another raid, the team seized 42 saris being distributed in Sangankal area. One person, Thimmanagouda, has been arrested.

Mr. Biswas said the village and ward-level model code of conduct teams were able to collect authentic information about electoral malpractices, based on which the raids were conducted.

Probe on

Bangalore Special Correspondent reports:

Special Office, Elections, V. Ponnuraj said investigation was on into the seizure of cash in Bellary district. He said that standard raid and seizure procedures were followed before the operations.