Currency notes being carried in an SUV hidden in its bonnet went up in flames near this town, about 135 km from Hyderabad, on Wednesday.

Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwarlal later told a press conference in Hyderabad that Rs 2.5 crore in cash, hidden in the car, caught fire.

The vehicle, which stopped at a roadside dhaba near Suryapet, apparently went up in flames triggering panic. The driver and another occupant fled as the vehicle was burning. On a closer look, Rs. 1,000 notes were found in the partially burnt vehicle. The cash was concealed in the bonnet of the car.

What was intriguing is the fact that the vehicle with registration number AP 9 BT 8289 displayed the ‘MLA’ sticker, belonging to TPCC working presidentand Huzurnagar MLA N. Uttam Kumar Reddy. However, the records in the Transport Department said the vehicle was registered in the name of Photon Energy Systems Ltd. and registered on May 15, 2009.

The TPCC working president is contesting from Huzurnagar Assembly constituency and is pitted against Shankaramma, mother of Srikantha Chary, who had immolated himself for the cause of Telangana during the statehood agitation.

Nalgonda Collector Chiranjeevulu told reporters that he had spoken to the RDO and DSP of Suryapet to get first hand information. He confirmed that a vehicle was partially burnt. “We are trying to get further information,” he told reporters. Meanwhile, Suryapet Returning officer V. Naganna confirmed that the vehicle carrying some currency notes went up in flames. “We are verifying the ownership of the vehicle,” he told The Hindu .