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Pouring through border

Pouring through border
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Intelligence agencies grappling with the fake currency menace is nothing new but what comes as a matter of fresh concern is the fact that the terror outfits — sitting in Pakistan and in Bangladesh — are using Murshidabad and Malda in West Bengal as their main transit points to smuggle in the currency to destabilise Indian economy and to strengthen their terror network.

The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) statistic revealed that in the last three years more than 400 arrests were made from several parts of India and nearly Rs 78,08,48,697 crore was seized from the fake currency peddlers.

Probe revealed that Murshidabad and Malda are important corridors of the fake currency racket. The startling revelation came following the arrest of four persons, last year, identified as Mufzal Hussain, Mehandi Hasan, Muzir Hussain and Abhu Hajal from Noida in this connection and all of them claimed that their gang leader belongs to Murshidabad.

The practice of militant groups pumping fake currency into India first came to light during the Hyderabad blast case in August 2007. Probe into the attack on the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in December 2005 also proved that the terrorists pumped in fake currency to carry out the operation. Similarly, in the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai involvement of fake currency racketeer was found.

It was found that Chapai Nawabgunj is one of the many centres in Bangladesh where counterfeit Indian notes are printed. ‘Earlier, Pakistan was the centre of printing fake currency. But to pump more currency, the gang members are now becoming more active along the Indo-Bangladesh border,’ Murshidabad SP, Humanyun Kabir, said.

Chapai Nawabgunj is located just across the Indian border in Malda district in West Bengal and there are several entry points on the porous international border, which serve as a corridor for the inflow of fake currency. Similarly, Bandarboni in Bangladesh is close to Murshidabad.

The former Kolkata Special Task Force (STF) chief Rajiv Kumar said, ‘Malda and Murshidabad districts have become important transit points through which high-denomination fake currency notes are smuggled in for distribution and circulation in the Indian market.’

Intelligence agencies identified Mohabbatpur, Chori-Anantapur and Hajinagar villages at Kaliachak block in Malda where some people are actively involved in the racket. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has already started working in close coordination with New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bihar, Kashmir and Tamil Nadu police from where most of the arrests were made in recent time.

A senior NCRB officials said, ‘People are very poor in border areas and therefore they participate in this racket to earn quick money. We are conducting several awareness programmes where we are telling these people not to get involved in such racket. So far the response has been good... The most interesting trend we have noticed is that racketeers are buying cattle by paying hefty amount of fake currency along the Indo-Bangladesh border. For one cow they are paying Rs 1 lakh in fake currency. Now it’s up to the seller to circulate the money in Indian market.’

Indian intelligence agencies in their report to the home ministry expressed concern and claimed that one Aftab Bhakti and Babu Gaithan control the entire racket sitting in Dubai.

‘The ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) uses militant groups including Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), Indian Mujahedeen (IM), Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) to smuggle and circulate counterfeit currency in India,’ former Kolkata STF chief said. In 2012, the CBI in its report to the union finance ministry mentioned that Pakistan’s government printing press in Quetta was also involved in printing counterfeit Indian currency. They mentioned that Pakistan based smugglers are importing the paper for printing fake Indian currency from London.

‘The smugglers are printing one of the finest qualities of Indian fake currency with sophistication. It is difficult for an ordinary citizen to point out which one is real and which one is fake. They even managed to forge the serial numbers and the floral designs as printed in an original currency,’ he said.

To address the multi-dimensional aspects of the menace, several agencies such as the RBI, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs, security and intelligence agencies of the centre and states, CBI, among others, are working together to check this illegal activity.

The work of these agencies is periodically reviewed by FICN Coordination Cell, which coordinates, shares all available information and intelligence on fake currency smuggling across the world. NIA has been empowered to investigate and prosecute such offences to deal with this menace. The government has also constituted a Terror Funding and Fake Currency Cell in NIA in 2010 to focus on probe of terror funding and fake currency cases.
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