Fake currency notes have often been used to disrupt economic activities in India. According to a study last year by the Indian Statistical Institute, as many as 250 out of every 10 lakh notes in circulation were fake. This was before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government's decision to ban Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes.
The study revealed that fake currency notes with a face value of Rs 70 crore were infused into the system every year, and law enforcement agencies were able to intercept only a third of them - a fact that is acknowledged by the agencies themselves. Fake 1,000-rupee notes constituted about 50% of the total value of fake notes.
On November 8, 2016, the government announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. New notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 with high security features were issued with the government claiming that it would be extremely difficult to copy the new currency. But the seizure of fake currency notes suggests otherwise.
Reports of fake currency notes, especially of Rs 2,000 denomination have been doing rounds within a short span of 2-3 months after the note ban announcement.
The Border Security Force (BSF) seized 100 fake Rs 2,000 currency notes from Malda district in West Bengal on February 15.
Here's all you need to know about the biggest currency seizure along the India-Bangladesh border post demonetisation announced by the Modi government.
- A BSF search party laid a trap at about 2 am in a mango orchard in the Churiantpur area in Malda district and found a packet containing 100 Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICNs) of the face value of Rs 2,000, which were minted by the government post the scrapping of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes last year. The BSF personnel challenged a suspected smuggler on the Indian side, who was set to receive the bundle from the Bangladeshi side, but he "managed to escape taking advantage of the darkness and thick growth in the orchard", they added.
- The quality of the seized fake notes was found to be "good" as a preliminary examination detected that eight-nine features, out of a total of 17, were copied even as the paper quality was found to be "not too good", officials said.
- The latest seizure was made on the basis of a tip-off from an FICN smuggler who was arrested earlier. BSF and NIA, in a joint operation, arrested Umar Faruk (21) alias Firoz from the Golapganj area of Kaliachak in Malda and three fake currency notes of Rs 2,000 face value were seized from his possession. Firoz, a resident of Mohanpur village in Malda, was absconding in a case registered by the NIA involving a seizure of fake currency of Rs 5.94 lakh face value.
- The Kaliachak and Malda areas of West Bengal along the Indo-Bangla border are notorious for FICN smuggling and in 2016, BSF's South Bengal Frontier (comprising five border districts of West Bengal) seized fake currency of over Rs 1.47 crore face value and arrested 19 smugglers in this regard.
- On February 8, West Bengal Police arrested a youth with 40 fake Rs 2,000 currency notes from Murshidabad district, which is termed as the biggest such haul from the porous Indo-Bangla border region post demonetisation. The accused reportedly told investigators that the notes were printed in Pakistan.
According to intelligence officials, the trade of fake notes along Indo-Bangla border, under the patronage of terror groups, is considered to be a financial bloodline for terror modules operating in India.
The enormity of the illegal trade in Indo-Bangla border can be gauged from the fact that BSF since January 2015 to November 2016 seized fake Indian currency notes with face value of Rs 3,96,72,500 and had apprehended 42 smugglers.