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Three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s major crackdown on black money and demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, Himachal Pradesh police seized Rs 76 lakh worth currency of higher denominations from two persons traveling from Manali to Paonta sahib early on Friday morning. The currency was seized from a Toyota Fortuner car having registration HP 58 770. Sundernagar police in Mandi district intercepted the vehicle around 1 am this morning at a special nakka on the national highway.
Additional SP Mandi Kulbhusan Verma confirmed the seizure and said the currency was wrapped and concealed in gift packs. On opening these packets, it was discovered that there were currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. The total value of the currency was Rs 76 lakhs. This was the first big seizure in the state after demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes.
“We have seized the vehicle and also the cash. Income tax authorities and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have been informed for investigations. It’s upto both the central agencies to investigate and then take appropriate lawful action if the movement of the questioned currency was being done in violation of the laws,” he said.
The police said promoters of a Himalaya Ski company, which has business in Kullu-Manali, claimed ownership to the currency. They have been asked to show the documents and explain the source of the money to the central agencies. If it’s hawala money then ED will come into picture or Income Tax Department will do the necessary questioning.
The driver of the vehicle had told the police that they were only told to proceed with the articles from Manali and will be informed later as to where they will have to go. Initially, the destination was told to be Paonta but thereafter they were also hinted about Delhi.
Meanwhile, opening of ATMs after two days created more chaos as thousands of people rushed to withdraw cash. There were long queues next to most ATMs in major towns, including Shimla. But during the first half of the day, ATMs had run dry in Shimla, Dharamshala, McLeodganj, Manali, Kullu, Solan, Mandi ,Bilaspur and Una.
“I had to spent two hours waiting for my turn after bunking office but when my turn came, there was no cash in the ATM. I have to give another try on Saturday,” said Sheela Devi, a government employee.
Howeer Jagdish Thakur, a Chamba youth was lucky, who managed to get the exchange done in early hours and could also use the ATM. “It was a big urgency, but I am happy I got the cash in my hand,” he said.