Counterfeit Currency Racket In India : The Pak Connection

The counterfeiting of Indian currency was a criminal activity dating back to the seventies. However, in the recent times criminals, counterfeiting Indian currency, are back in business. The counterfeiting racket is now an important tool for carrying out disruptive activities in India for terrorist factions like the LeT and the Indian Mujahidin (IM). Flooding the Indian market with counterfeit currency will severely damage the Indian economy causing inflation and considerably reduce the credibility of the mint printed legitimate Indian currency released through the Reserve Bank of India. While the counterfeit currency circulated in the Indian market by the local counterfeiters is easy to detect even by a layman, the professionally counterfeited Indian currency can fool even the experts. As per the report of the various intelligence agencies, professionally counterfeited currency can also be detected. But it requires quite some effort as the counterfeit money matches the original currency very accurately. Out of the 14 security parameters incorporated in the original currency, the fake currency flawlessly matches 10 parameters. The main alleged supplier of counterfeit currency in India is Pakistan, through the various terrorist factions as concluded from the testimony of the various terrorists captured so far. Recently faint traces of a China connection have also been unearthed, though without any substantial proof.

The recent crackdown of the law enforcements on the Mumbai based Interstate fake Indian Currency racket:
The arrests of Rahis Kadu (28) and Rizwan Khan Shikari on August 6th at the Mumbai Central on the grounds of possession of fake Indian currency notes and their subsequent intensive interrogation unraveled a counterfeit money racket operating in Mumbai, Goa, Raigarh, Ratnagiri and Jharkahnd. Based on the information revealed by the arrested perpetrators, the police conducted raids in Ratnagiri, Murud, Dapoli and Raigarh which led to the arrest of six more people actively connected with the money counterfeiting racket from Murud and Dapoli. This fresh batch of criminals arrested gave up the name of one Rauf Shaikh (44) who was arrested on grounds of disseminating counterfeit currency in Goa. Interrogation of Rauf Shaikh led to the arrests of Hyder Shaikh (35) and Samrul Shaikh (34) by the crime branch from Jharkhand. In addition to the counterfeit money seized from the arrested ,which included fake 100, 500 and 1000 rupees currency notes, the police recovered fake currency worth a face value of Rs 4.15 lakh suspected to have been printed in Pakistan and distributed to the busted racket by a Malda (West Bengal) based agent.

Counterfeit money racket busted by the law enforcements in Kausambhi and Ghaziabad:
According to the police reports a new gang of counterfeiters was arrested recently as a result of two separate raids. Acting on a tip given by an informer, the police confiscated fake currency with a face value of Rs 6, 50,000 from Ghaziabad and arrested nine people including two women in this connection. The first round of arrests took place in Kausambhi where a counterfeiter’s gang of six people was arrested with a woman as their ringleader. Following this lead the rest of the arrests were conducted. It is suspected that the fake currency was obtained and smuggled across the Nepal and Bangladesh borders.

Counterfeit money racket busted by the law enforcement in Pune:
Another recent counterfeit racket busted in Pune by the police was operated by the Haryana sisters Savita Omchandra Kagda (24) and Babita Omchandra Kagda (22), residents of the Dehu Road area. Apart from the fake currency worth Rs 37, 000 the police also confiscated a printer and a scanner. According to the statement issued by the Deputy Commissioner of police (Zone III), Shaji Umap, “They used to print currency notes in the denomination of Rs 500, Rs 100, Rs 50 and Rs 10. Using genuine notes, they used to cut the printouts with such precision that both sides of the note matched perfectly.”

The professional counterfeit money racket: the Pakistan Connection:
The cases of counterfeits rackets busted and the arrests made are mostly local. The real threat is of course the professional counterfeit rackets based in Pakistan. The capture of the much wanted LeT explosives expert Abdul Karim Tunda on August 16th, 2013 near the Indo-Nepal border and his subsequent interrogation by the different intelligence agencies proved to be a turning point in tracking the Pakistan funded professionally counterfeited currency. Tunda himself admitted of being a part of the said counterfeit racket with Md. Bashir and the ex- ISI chief Hamid Gul as his major accomplices. The counterfeit money was smuggled into India with the aid of the LeT and the IM members for sponsoring terrorist activities in India and also to bring the Indian Economy to its knees. Amongst other things revealed by Tunda under interrogation was the information about Iqbal Kana, the current mastermind behind the Pakistani counterfeit racket, his network and his contacts in India. This statement of Tunda corroborated with the information extracted from other captured terrorist under interrogation.

Iqbal Kana (50), originally from Muzaffarnagar (UP), left India and settled in Pakistan. His handler in Pakistan is supposedly an ISI contact of a very high rank. Using his garment and cosmetics business as a front, Kana started his operations out of Pakistan in 1993 and is considered to be the mastermind behind the currency counterfeiting racket. Some of Kana’s consignments of counterfeit currency have been apprehended by the law enforcement which include a bus driven by a Turkish national carrying counterfeit currency tuning up to Rs1.54 crore, confiscated in Delhi in June 2011 and a counterfeit currency racket crackdown in January 2012, where counterfeit currency worth a face value of Rs 2.2 crores were retrieved from rolls of imported garment.

His latest consignment was one of a face value of Rs 29.6 Lakh, packed in school bags and couriered using FedEx from a garments factory manufacturing schoolbags located in Shenzen, Guangdong Province, China on June 21st 2013. One important fact to be noted here is that all international couriers are thoroughly checked for the contents they are carrying and one is not allowed to courier money especially in such huge amounts. It is evident that Kana pulled off this antic with the help of the Chinese FedEx officials. A top level police officer associated with tracking counterfeit money revealed, wishing anonymity, “Tunda has revealed that Kana is being run by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and sourcing his supplies from the currency forging centers in Peshawar and Lahore. Without top level support, it is not possible to produce such high quality counterfeit notes, which often fool experts.”

While wanted desperately in India by the CBI, Delhi Police and other State polices, Kana, backed by the ISI enjoys a perfectly legitimate life in Pakistan. As far as international money counterfeiting is concerned, the law enforcement has only hit the tip of the iceberg. On top of that the local rackets have joined in. I personally experienced an incident when I had picked up Rs 10,000 rupees (all in1000 rupee denomination) from the State Bank of India (SBI), (Jadavapur University Branch) last year for a payment. During payment it turned out that six of the ten thousand rupee notes are fakes. How I extricated myself from that situation and recovered the Rs 6000 from SBI is another story. The point to be noted here is that counterfeit currency has penetrated even strong financial institutions like the SBI. The Government needs to constitute a Task Force exclusively for tracking and destroying counterfeit currency. The condition of rupee in the global market is deplorable. On top of that if counterfeit money floods the market, it won’t take long for Pakistan to achieve its desired goal of making the rupee not even worth the paper it’s printed on!