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Minting money to foment terror

 Mohit Sharma |  2013-09-14 22:43:28.0  |  New Delhi

Minting money to foment terror

Despite several steps taken by the government to restrain the influx of fake Indian currency notes (FICN) into India, the increase in seizures across the country in the recent past has set alarm bells ringing.

Statistically, as on 30 June this year, about 2 lakh fake currency notes worth Rs 17 crore had been recovered as reported in Parliament. Besides, the total FICN seizures in years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 (up to June) showed a steady increase and stood at Rs 27.82 crore, 29.40 crore, Rs 32.63 crore and Rs 17 crore (approximately) respectively. Not just that, the finance ministry has expressed concerns over new routes emerging for the smuggling of notes. Parliament was informed that fake notes printed in Pakistan are now routed via China and Nepal.

Confessions made by arrested terror-accused in the past one month have reinforced the unhindered patronage of neighbouring countries to the perpetrators in smuggling through illegal means. This cocktail of developments related to fake currency coupled with depreciating rupee could turn out to be lethal for the economic predicaments of the country.

Confessions of the perpetrators
Arrested top Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) bomb expert Abdul Karim Tunda has told interrogators that Iqbal Kana, the biggest dealer of FICN, used to get the counterfeit currency notes from a Pakistani army officer and used his own network to push them into India. Probe officials claimed that Kana was getting FICN, which were being printed in Islamabad and Peshawar, from a brigadier of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Tunda, who was caught on 18 August, had the responsibility to collect, disburse and push FICN through his network. Tunda has also revealed that the ISI runs the entire supply chain of FICN being smuggled into India. 

In January 2012, FICN of the face value of Rs 2.25 crore was seized in Delhi in which names of Tunda, Kana and another accused, Hasan, had cropped up. Besides, apprehended Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Yasin Bhatkal has also confessed of having been involved in bringing fake currency from Pakistan. Bhatkal was arrested by the Kolkata police in 2009 in connection with an FICN case. 
However, he was able to give the 
cops a slip. 

New route via China emerging
Recently, minister of state (finance) Namo Narain Meena told Parliament that they have been informed by the ministry of home affairs about instances coming to notice where counterfeit currency printed in Pakistan has been routed to India via China and Nepal. Meena said that this is an attempt by Pakistan-based FICN suppliers to devise an alternative route for injecting counterfeit notes into India and that the intelligence and investigating agencies are making efforts to detect and neutralise all such networks. The minister also informed that FICN is injected into India through land, air and sea routes which include Indo-Pak border, neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka as well as West Asia (UAE) and South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam).

This is unprecedented as it is the first time that FICN being routed from China has been found and the development has caused much concern in the security establishment as until now this route had not been used.

China is already a flourishing drug market conduit where Pakistani underworld has considerable influence. 'In the recent past, New Delhi has seen growing ISI influence in Xinjiang. China has openly talked about elements from Pakistan fomenting terror in this region. Pakistan could very well be using these assets to push FICN into India,' a senior MHA official said. Days after a consignment of FICN worth Rs 37 lakh coming from China was apprehended in Delhi, another consignment of comparable value from the same country was seized on the Indo-Nepal border.

Union finance minister P Chidambaram had also said that there were inputs indicating that several places located along the international border of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal have emerged as major routes for counterfeit notes smuggled into India.

Steps by Government
In May this year, the United States of America (USA) had agreed to assist India impose sanctions against companies which manufacture and supply paper, ink and thread for printing FICN. This was done after New Delhi raised concerns over increased printing of fake currency notes. India suspects that there is a rogue supplier giving material to Pakistan where fake notes are being printed on Pakistan's state printing machines. The issue was raised during the recent Indo-US Homeland Security dialogue in Washington and the latter gave assurances of all possible help.

Based on features of high-quality FICN seizures in India, since 2005, India claims to have identified parametres of the paper, ink and thread used in the notes. 

An Indian diplomat said, 'There are not more than a dozen companies that supply high-security paper and ink to various governments for printing their respective currency... The US has agreed to help us in identifying the particular supplier behind material used for fake Indian currency notes. India will then try to impose sanctions on them with the help of US. The US has a huge data-bank on features of fake dollar notes and details of suppliers behind them.'

India had earlier handed over a dossier to Pakistan identifying four persons, including Dawood Ibrahim and an ISI officer named Major Tayeeb, allegedly pumping fake currency into India at the behest of the Pakistan government.

Meanwhile, alarmed over a massive seizure of fake Indian currency and explosives in Bangladesh, the ministry of home affairs is all set to send a team of the National Investigation Agency sleuths to gather more information on the case since it has a direct Pakistan link. Authorities in Bangladesh busted a terror module with the arrest of 16 people, including four Pakistanis, on 30 March and confiscated counterfeit currency worth Rs 1.3 crore, the amount is much more than what has been recovered from either Bangladesh or Pakistan border in the last few years.

Mohit Sharma

Mohit Sharma

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