Central intelligence and income tax agencies are grappling with a peculiar situation as Rs3.5 crore of cash in scrapped Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes has ''vanished" after being seized on a private chartered flight at Dimapur in Nagaland.
The cash was seized by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at Dimapur after a tipoff from the Intelligence Bureau, and the local income tax staff was summoned to take further action about the unaccounted cash.
But to the surprise of CISF personnel, the cash disappeared, with the local I-T officer claiming that it had been with the security personnel all along. CISF officers who had alerted their headquarters about the seizure were shocked, but could do little as the I-T officer insisted he had nothing to do with the cash.
The CISF, which does not have the power to carry out arrests, has reported the matter to IB and Central Board of Direct Taxes.
The plane's "main passenger" was one Amarjit Kumar Singh, a businessman from Bihar who was carrying the cash. The flight VTCP, which had taken off from Hisar in Haryana, was sent back to New Delhi.
A source said Singh told CISF that "someone big" in Delhi had allegedly sent the cash for a Naga businessman. He also named another Naga businessman. The aircraft landed in Dimapur with Singh and an unidentified woman among those on board.
The CISF identified four suspects on the basis of the alert by IB that they were on a mission to launder old currency notes in the state where income tax exemptions offered to Scheduled Tribes give a window for money laundering.
The exemption is not unique to Nagaland. STs in North Cachar Hills, Karbi Anglong, Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District in Assam, Jaintia and Garo Hills in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura are exempted from income tax subject to certain conditions.
Dimapur deputy commissioner of income tax A Kitto Zhimomi refused to comment on the matter. He said only the CBDT was authorized to talk to the media.