Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How India needs to tackle fake currency menace

On one hand India speaks of taking preventive measures to curb the menace of fake currency and on the other statistics show that there is nearly Rs 12,00,000 crore worth of fake currency still in circulation in India.

While India managed to seal the Pakistan and Nepal route into India to a large extent, ISI sponsored operatives shifted their base to Thailand to further their business. These elements have been pumping in fake currency into the Indian market with help of operatives of the D Gang who have a strong base in Thailand.

The key player today in this racket is Aftab Bhakti, a D Gang operative who reports directly to Major Ali and Arshad Khan, both top ranking officers in the ISI. Bhakti has become a key player ever since the ISI decided to shift base to Thailand and this man was picked since he has been operating out of there for nearly a decade now. During his earlier stint, he coordinated with the mafia in Thailand on behalf of the D-Gand and they were primarily into smuggling of drugs. The D-Gangs network is very deep rooted in Thailand and there was already an existing route between this country and Bangladesh through which drugs were being smuggled. Moreover this particular route was not on the radar of the Indian agencies and hence the ISI thought it would be best to use this route to transport fake currency.

Earlier all the notes were being printed in Pakistan and then it used to be transported into Nepal and then made its entry into India. However post 26/11 there has been a sea change in the manner in which Indian agencies have been treating both the Nepal and Pakistan borders which prompted the ISI to rethink its strategy. In the current scenario the notes are being printed in Thailand and then local operatives smuggle it into Bangladesh and then pump it into India.

Intelligence Bureau officials told rediff.com that they have shared information to this effect with the Central Bureau of Investigation which is looking into this case in India. The IB says that earlier the ISI had managed to create its own route and were sending in the notes through operatives who infiltrated into India. However there is a lot of scrutiny now and hence they are unable to do so easily. Moreover there is also international pressure on this issue and that is when the ISI thought it would be best to move the operation to Thailand and more importantly use the route used by the D-Gang to further their business. Even today the routes used by the D Gang are considered to be potentially safer since the scrutiny on its members is comparatively less when compared to operatives of a terror outfit.

The IB says that the ISI is using the D Gang for the same purpose which it used it to smuggle arms and ammunition just before the 1993 blasts. The D Gang which was actively smuggling drugs in and out of Pakistan were given an ultimatum by the ISI to smuggle arms along with the drugs into India if they wanted to continue with their business. The same tactic has been used now too by the ISI this time around too. Intelligence bureau officials say that in the days to come they will use more routes such as the one existing in Dubai too to transport fake currency into India.

Experts point out that the reason why fake currency continues to exist in India despite all the security restriction is due to the meager control we have on the paper. Almost 98 per cent of the paper which is used to print Indian currency is exported from European nations. Currently India relies on 11 firms abroad to import paper. This means that India does not have absolute control over the security features and are heavily reliant on these firms. When the paper is imported security features such as water mark, magnetic thread, and also the windowed security thread are already existing. Experts say that it is not hard for these terror groups to get access to these notes and they have already done so in the past. All they need to do is incorporate micro lettering and also the face of the father of the nation into it which is the easiest job since the rest of the main security features come ready made.

It is time for India to rethink about this aspect. Guarding the borders and other entry points will only solve ten per cent of the problem since these persons will continue to innovate and create newer routes to smuggle in fake currency. India needs to stop depending on foreign nations completely to manufacture paper and should ensure that it is entirely done here so that the entire control rests here.

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