Recent seizures of large amounts of fake currency notes from the national capital is keeping the intelligence agencies on their toes, says Vicky nanjappa
Around Rs 2.16 crore worth of fake Indian currency has been seized this year out of which Rs 1.56 crore was from New Delhi alone. While Rs 1.56 crore alone was from Delhi, the remaining seizures were from West Bengal (29.88 lakh), Bihar (Rs 20 lakh) and Punjab (Rs 9.22 lakh).
The more important aspect to these seizures that fake currency is flowing in the national capital and this appears to be a shift as the rest of the seizures that have occurred over the past couple of years have been more in other cities.
Intelligence Bureau officials and sources in the National Investigation Agency who are dealing with the subject, point out that increasingly they are finding more cases of fake currency in Delhi.
This is nothing but a change in strategy as the rest of the states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, which were predominant hubs for fake currency are under the scanner ever since the government introduced tough measures to crack down the racket.
One must also take into account that those pumping in fake currency have not been using the Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh borders too much either as the scrutiny is very high. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, which allegedly controls this market has made a shift, and has been using Bangkok and Vietnam for this purpose since the past one year.
Over the past one year, most of the seizures have had an origin from either Bangkok or Vietnam and while investigating the route it has been found that the fake currency is landing in Delhi before it is circulated around.
Very recently, a female passenger was apprehended by the Indian police. During questioning it was found that she was flying in from Vietnam. She had made a stopover at New Delhi and was trying to pass on the currency.
She said during her questioning that she was passed on the currency by three persons in Vietnam and was asked to hand it over to someone at the Delhi airport. The police found that she was just a mule, but the larger picture was that Indian fake currency was being pumped into New Delhi through these countries.
Investigating agencies would also point out that the hawala network in old Delhi is the strongest in the country today. Hence the set up was already there and all the culprits needed to do was to activate the network to get into business.
In addition, the strongholds of terror groups such as the Indian Mujahideen have always been Delhi and Uttar Pradesh and this network too helps the ISI market Indian fake currency through the national capital with much ease.
Recent statistics reveal that in Delhi alone, there are 10 cases on an average which are registered every day pertaining to counterfeiting. In Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Lucknow the average number of cases registered is between 4 and 5 everyday.
The recent investigations conducted in recent terrorist attacks all lead up to a network in Delhi. While the police have found traces of fake currency being smuggled in from Delhi, they have also found that a hawala dealer in the city has been the one who has helped fund this operation.
IB officials say that the networks for both hawala and fake currency are the same. The hawala market is a Rs 2,000 crore business in India alone and nearly Rs 1,200 crore emerges out of Delhi alone.
This network is controlled by the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim gang from Pakistan which also has laid the road map for the fake currency market. The confessions of Ahmed Ashfaq, an alleged operative of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba too indicates that the major hub for both hawala and fake currency transactions are in the Chandini Chowk area of Delhi.
He said that while the hawala dealers from this area help transfer money through a hawala transaction, they have also been instructed to drop off or pick up fake currency from the very same area.
The other interesting part that has been found during the investigations is the creation of a 'Muslim Defence Fund' that has been set up by the D-gang in Delhi. The primary objective of the MDF was to ensure that money kept flowing in to India which could be used for subversive activities.
Earlier, the MDF was being mainly used for a hawala transaction between Riyadh and Delhi, but today there are signs of them getting into the fake currency market as well.
While the strong hawala network has helped the circulation of fake currency, the other reason for Delhi becoming a hub is because is located closer to places where this sort of money would be used, agencies point out.
From Delhi, the money is transported to Uttar Pradesh and through the channels over there it is then circulated into the rest of the states in northern India.
One may also recollect that the IB had put out a warning during the recently held Uttar Pradesh elections that there was hawala and fake currency doing the rounds and the agencies needed to be on high alert. As per the inputs it was found that such money was being pumped in from the Delhi network.
It was a similar operation that had been followed in South India too a couple of years back. During the investigation conducted in Hyderabad it was found that a politician had parked money in the Gulf and during the elections this money had been transferred.
It was also found that the same network which had transferred the hawala money had also pumped in fake currency a couple of months later.
Investigators say that these persons will find many ways to pump in fake currency into the market and this new route through Delhi is something that has come to the limelight and they would probe more to find more on this network.