Gold, diamonds, cash worth Rs.200 crore seized

Mumbai, July 2 (IANS) In what may be the biggest seizure of its kind in India, the income tax department and the NIA seized cash, gold, diamonds and other valuables worth Rs.200 crore here, officials said.

The counting of the booty and valuation of the gold and precious metals was still under way and the total worth is likely to shoot up, the officials said.

The National Investigation Agency, which passed on a tip-off to the income tax department, questioned 47 people including local couriers known as angadiyas as well as their agents and associates following the Monday night seizure.

Around 9 p.m., the income tax and NIA officials swooped on four trucks from which bags and boxes containing the consignment were being unloaded outside the busy Mumbai Central rail terminus.

The officials surrounded the station premises and retrieved 102 bags. They ordered the men on board including angadias, drivers, diamond company helpers and others to go with them to Scindia House in south Mumbai for investigation.

According to Swatantra Kumar, director general of the income tax department in Mumbai, the consignment was meant to put on the Gujarat Mail leaving Mumbai Central at 10 p.m. It reaches Ahmedabad at 6.30 a.m.

The sources and the destination of the consignment were being ascertained as also the purpose of the huge transfer, with officials not ruling out possible linkages to terrorism or elections.

According to police sources, many of the bags had details of the sending and receiving parties which the IT was now cross-checking.

Kumar said a team of over 50 officers was engaged in the counting and valuation and a true picture of the actual worth of the consignment could be available only by Wednesday or Thursday.

Four currency counting machines from the Reserve Bank of India have been taken to speed up the process.

Meanwhile, the angadias have cried foul and accused the income tax department of blowing up the entire issue out of operation.

All India Angadia Association member Dhiren Modi ridiculed speculation that the seizure amounted to Rs.2,500 crore.

"How can you count Rs.2,500 crore in a day or so even with machines?" Modi asked.

He said of angadias: "We are just ordinary couriers, there is a sender and a receiver. We just deliver the goods safely and earn a small fee for the service."

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