As polls near in Bengal, agencies shift focus to India’s fake currency hub, Malda
New Delhi, Mar 03: The fact that in 2013-2014 alone, Malda in West Bengal pushed Rs 1,500 crore worth fake currency itself suggests the magnitude of the problem. Not much has changed and Malda according to officers in the National Investigation Agency is the primary hub for the racket.
With the elections coming up, the Intelligence agencies have heightened surveillance as there would be a bigger push made by the racketeers to pump in fake currency, printed in Pakistan and smuggled through Bangladesh. An Intelligence Bureau official tells OneIndia that a close watch would be kept on Malda, which alone pumps in 95 per cent of the fake currency into the country.
The NIA is conducting several probes relating to this racket and has arrested scores of racketeers from Malda alone. In one of its probes against the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen, Bangladesh, the NIA learnt that the members of the Malda module had set shop in the southern states of Karnataka and Kerala. They were circulating fake currency and using it for terror related activities.
In a 2018 probe, following the arrest of one Sonaul from Malda, the NIA learnt that attempts were also being made to set up a printing unit in Malda. The module was being run by a person by the name Johny Shaikh and he was primarily responsible for the entire modus operandi.
Malda is an easy landing point as it borders with Bangladesh. Once the money lands in West Bengal, several youth are picked up to execute the job. Several of them land up in cities such as Mumbai or Bengaluru and first find work as construction labour. They work for sometime and then circulate the notes in instalments.
They stay on in these cities for a couple of months and manage to circulate at least Rs 2 lakh worth of fake currency each, investigations have revealed. While they personally circulate some of the notes, there is also a module which buys notes from them.
The market rate in Bengaluru and Maharashtra varies. For Rs. 2,000 worth of fake notes, the price offered is anything between Rs 100 to Rs 200. These persons who pick up the notes have very often circulated such notes through banks.
In 2018, the NIA arrested one Shahjahan. He told the NIA that they found working out of West Bengal easy due to the lack of proper checks. While the ease with which these operatives functioned was one such detail, the other was the quality of the notes. The accused persons revealed to the NIA that it was extremely easy for them to move the notes out of Malda and even stock it as there were hardly any checks.
The officer cited above said that while invention is to hurt the Indian economy, the main reason for this racket being given so much importance is to raise money for terror. A few years back, the agencies had busted a plot where some radical elements had decided to begin a violent movement. The same was aimed at either emerging Murshidabad with Bangladesh or seek for Azadi.
The plotters had even managed to rope in several like-minded locals into their fold. The funds too were being raised through various mechanisms that included fake currency peddling and also donations.
Bangladesh trained terrorists were preparing for a launch into this region and carry out a series of spectacular attacks. However the plan was foiled due to some tough measures taken by the central agencies.