A spate of anonymous calls to Election authorities about huge cash being smuggled into Tamil Nadu onboard a cargo ship kept revenue officials on tenterhooks as they made a thorough search of four vessels berthed at the port here on Tuesday only to find nothing amiss.

Acting on a specific information that crores of rupees had been shipped in a container to Tamil Nadu for distribution to voters, revenue officials conducted a two-hour long search of ‘Beautiful Rena’, a coal-ladden ship from Indonesia, said Tahsildhar Krishnan.

Officials also conducted a fresh search of three ships, which they had checked on Saturday, as the anonymous caller claimed that the information was genuine and insisted on proper screening of the vessels.

They said the searches were carried out on instructions from the State Chief Electoral Officer’s office in Chennai, which had received repeated calls stating that “the cash container” had been brought in a ship to the port here.

However, the officials did not find any currency notes — either Indian or foreign, the Tahsildhar said adding he had conveyed the inspection results to higher officials.

However, one more ship — ladden with wooden logs — had not been searched yet as sufficient arrangements had to be made to fog the logs as snakes and other reptiles might be present on the ship, officials said.

District Superintendent of Police Durai said they were carrying out the search on the orders of Election Commission.

Of the three ships re-searched on Tuesday, two were carrying oil and the search was done after the oil was offloaded, he said. They did not find anything suspicious.

All the three ships had been given green signal to leave the port.

Rumours were doing rounds that apart from currency notes to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore, gold and silver also could be smuggled through ships.

With the state going to the polls on April 24, the Election Commission has initiated several steps to curb transport of unaccounted money.

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