After sunset there’s hectic activity in Mohabbatpur village in Malda district near the Indo-Bangladesh border, around 330 kms from Kolkata. Neatly wrapped brick-sized packets are lobbed from the Bangladesh side cross the border fence. A young man waiting within the shadows catches those.
Bengal’s Malda makes mark as India’s fake currency hub within 100 days of demonetisation
After a quick telephone call, the youth jumps on his motorbike and carries the packet for a few kilometre before handing it to another person, who successively, carries it forward like a relay race. Within half-hour the packet reaches Farakka railway station. It can reach the Kaliachak bus stand on National highway 34 in even less time. Within 24 hours the packet reaches numerous parts of the country including Delhi.
It contains counterfeit high value Indian currency. Within 100 days of demonetization, Bengal’s Malda district, known for its mangoes, has become the prime entry purpose of fake currency of new notes into India. The NIA and BSF have indicated that printing bases for fake notes are established in Bangladesh. Until now, most fake notes used to come back from Pakistan.
BSF officers point out that unlike the ones seized from different parts of the country, the ones found in Malda weren’t mere colour photocopies, but counterfeits printed in proper presses. According to sources, as several as 10 out of 17 security features of a Rs 2000 note are copied within the FICN, as well as the planning, colour pattern, number pattern, see through water mark, portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, Swachh Bharat logo and slogan and motif of Mangalayan. Out of the six seizures in Malda until February 28, the largest one was on February 15 when BSF seized a consignment of 100 notes of Rs 2,000. Security agencies have arrested a total of 5 men in the drive against fake currency in Malda.
A well-oiled machinery props up the couriers who deliver the FICN. A group of youths receive the money thrown from the other side of the border. Another group of youths divide the money in small consignments and courier it. One traveler covers around a km before he passes it on to a different. “Each one makes around Rs 1000 to Rs 1500 for one trip, that is good cash considering they’re poor people. Larger consignments are divided into smaller parts of Rs 2 to 3 lakh, in order that if one gets caught others are delivered and profit is created,” said an NIA officer.
FICN dealers operate on both sides of the border. The speed for buying fake currency before conclusion was Rs 40,000 for a wad of Rs 1 lakh face value. However the rates have risen since the new batch of fake currency has began to hit the market. currently Rs 1 lakh of FICN is sold for Rs 60,000 to 70,000.
The ‘almost real’ fake notes of Rs 2000 “Printing fake Rs 2000 note is driven by economics. It fetches additional profit,” said a senior BSF officer posted in Malda. There’s also a psychological angle. The Rs 2000 is a new concept and people are less skeptical regarding fakes. Many think that it’s difficult to copy Rs 2000 notes.
According to BSF Bangladesh Government stamp paper is currently being used to print fake notes of Rs 2,000. The paper is of good quality for printing fakes. Since it permits colours, style and a few security features to fit properly. The paper additionally lasts long in circulation.