AA Edit | Explain staggering cash stash

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

"Exploring the Rs 351 crore cash stash: Uncovering a political and distillery nexus in the largest income tax raid ever.

Inside the mind-boggling operation to count Rs 351 crores seized in eastern India, exposing a deep-rooted political and distillery nexus in the largest income tax raid in history. (PTI File Image)

A mind-boggling operation to count the Rs 351 crores in cash seized in raids in eastern India was an explosive event that may not quite have stayed in the spotlight as it took all of six days.

The stupendous counting operation defied imagination as 40 counting machines, besides 40 on standby to compensate for frequent breakdowns, 80 State Bank of India and income tax officials working day and night save for toilet, food and fatigue breaks and air-dryers to help separate notes sticking because of mildew from long storage had to deal with the biggest ever cash stash discovered in the history of income tax raids.

Before stepping up the probe towards answering the why and how of black money generation on such a stupendous scale, intriguing facts like not a single note of duplicate currency turning up in 176 bags of Rs 100, 200 and 500 denominations must be seen as an event by itself.

While that may be a tribute to the honesty of tipplers who are readymade customers for various alcoholic drinks made from the base mixing material, which is the extra neutral alcohol being manufactured at this company’s distillery, the captivating connection to politics is what makes this case unique.

The Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand, Dheeraj Sahu, might struggle to disown his links to the cash stash scandal as his son is the MD and brother the chairman of the group that was behind the spinning of this tale of booze for cash that defies stringent accountability and accounting mechanisms like taxes, excise, VAT, income-tax, etc.

Among India’s least well-kept secrets is the politician-bureaucrat-police-distiller-brewer-nexus that yields untold amounts of unaccounted money that may go to fund political parties, poll expenses, etc. No wonder then that the Congress party was the butt of scorn and ridicule for proximity to such a huge stash before it promptly distanced itself from its MP.

It is well-known that liquor, despite all the high sin taxes levied on it, is still the cash cow to serve as the provider of money to grease hands. Those who have generated such an amount owe an explanation to the authorities. The politicians and their parties will, of course, bank on clever deniability to keep their distance from those who are caught with the proceeds of the till.