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Kolkata: Cash worth Rs 5.15-crore and precious jewelleries worth Rs 13.62-crore stashed in a shopping complex in the heart of Kolkata without anyone claiming ownership!

Yes, this is what has now prompted the Income Tax (IT) department to seize the money and the jewelleries believed to be “black money” that some affluent traders of Kolkata had accumulated.

The seizures have been made from Shree Vardaan Market Safe Deposit Vault ~ privately owned locker facility located on the basement of upscale Vardaan Market at Camac Street in central Kolkata.

The vault, owned by the proprietor of the four-storied market complex, has been running without a licence from RBI and the other competent authorities.

According to Ashish Varma, principal chief commissioner IT department for Bengal and Sikkim, they learned about the vault in the course of a drive against black money and raided it in the first week of February.

In all, there were 649 lockers in the vault. The IT department initially sealed the vault and sent out notices to those who had taken the lockers on rent.

Although most turned up at the IT office with documents showing that they had rented the lockers, nobody turned up to claim the ownership of 200 lockers. Thus, the IT officers recently broke those lockers only to stumble upon the huge cash and jewelleries.

The Rs 5.15-crore cash seized are in denominations of new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes, indicating that those were stashed up in 2017 or later. The seized jewelleries include diamond and gold ornaments studded with platinum.

Sharma said that the vault has been in operation since 1986 if not earlier. The 200 unclaimed lockers were taken on rent in fake names and using fake addresses.

The IT department has not found any political leaders involved in this and suspect that the lockers belonged to some unscrupulous traders.

Most of the shops at Vardaan Market belong to non-Bengali traders, including Marwaris.

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