NIA Will Launch Probe In Bangladesh To Bust Pakistan-Controlled Racket Of Fake Indian Currency Being Smuggled In Through Bengal

NIA Will Launch Probe In Bangladesh To Bust Pakistan-Controlled Racket Of Fake Indian Currency Being Smuggled In Through Bengal500 rupee currency notes (representative image).
Snapshot
  • The NIA has registered a case and a team will land in Dhaka soon for the probe.

    Bangladesh has offered its full support for the investigation.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will start a probe in Bangladesh into a thriving racket based in that country involving smuggling of fake Indian currency from Pakistan being routed through Bangladesh and into Bengal.

The NIA, a senior officer of the premier investigative agency told Swarajya over phone from New Delhi, has already registered a case and a team will land in Dhaka soon for the probe.

Bangladesh, it is learnt, has agreed to the NIA probe and assured the Indian government of full support. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police recently busted a cell run by Pakistanis that was smuggling counterfeit Indian currency from Pakistan into Bangladesh and then sending it to India through Bengal.

More than Rs 46 lakh was recovered and five people, including two Pakistani nationals, were arrested. The NIA will start its probe by interrogating these arrested persons.

What has set off alarm bells is that the fake Indian currency notes, in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000, that were seized from the cell in Dhaka are very good counterfeits and hard to detect.

“The counterfeits are very close to the original and not only ordinary people, even cashiers in banks will find it very difficult to detect these. It is apparent that Pakistan is perfecting the counterfeiting of Indian currency,” the NIA officer said.

The fake currency, suspects the NIA, lands in Dhaka by air disguised as merchandise. Some of it may also be coming in through the sea route.

The fake Indian currency notes (FICN) are then smuggled into India through the porous portions of the India-Bangladesh border that runs through Bengal.

The huge population of Bangladesh-origin Muslims who have entered India illegally and settled down in the border areas in Bengal over the past many decades facilitates this smuggling of FICN.

“Thanks to the shared religious and ethnic affinities of people on both sides of the international border, it is very easy to smuggle in FICN to Bengal. Policing, especially in the border districts, is also very lax in Bengal and the political and administrative patronage that Bangladesh-origin Muslims enjoy in Bengal facilitates this smuggling of FICN,” said a retired DIG-rank officer of the Border Security Force that guards this international border.

The NIA has, over the past few years, probed many cases (read this, this and this) of FICN smuggling rackets, and all of them have shown that the fake currency originating from Pakistan is transported to Bangladesh and then smuggled in through Bengal.

Smuggling in FICN is a thriving business in Bengal and one that enjoys political patronage also, feel central agencies. “Without political patronage at the ground level, this smuggling cannot happen,” said an Intelligence Bureau officer.

He pointed out that the India-Bangladesh border is very porous at some places in Assam and Meghalaya as well. “But in those states, the smugglers do not enjoy any political patronage and vigil by the police and state agencies are also very strict. Hence, smuggling of FICN does not happen in any substantial and organised scale through the international border running through those states,” the IB officer said.

After being smuggled into Bengal, the FICN is swiftly taken by couriers to other parts of the country, especially Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and some other metropolitan centres, which record very high business transactions.

The NIA officer told Swarajya that the agency hopes its probe in Bangladesh will bust the entire racket and help it nab operators in India as well.

“Till now, we have been nabbing people based on scattered intelligence inputs and have not got to the bottom of this whole business. All those we have been arresting were just couriers, but now we will get the big fish,” he said.

This is why, the NIA officer added, the decision to launch an independent and comprehensive probe has been taken despite the existence of an India-Bangladesh joint task force that shares information on smuggling of fake currency.

“Interrogation of the five arrested in Dhaka, especially the Pakistani nationals, will reveal a lot. We will also probe the onward linkages of the racket into India and that will help us in busting this racket,” said the officer.

Last year, FICN worth Rs 92 crore were seized in India. But that, says the NIA, is just a small fraction of the total FICN in circulation within the country.

Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is behind this whole racket. “We now want to find out where the FICN is printed in Pakistan and who all are behind it,” said the officer.

New Delhi hopes that after evidence of Pakistan’s deep involvement in the racket is gathered and collated, it can be presented as yet more evidence of the machinations of that rogue country to the global community.

Incidentally, the FICN probe in Bangladesh will be the third one abroad. The NIA initiated a probe into an attack on a gurdwara in Kabul in March last year that left 27 Sikhs dead. The agency launched another investigation on the activities of the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) that held protests before Indian missions in the US, the UK, Germany, Canada and some other nations last year. The SFJ is believed to have close links with Pakistan’s ISI and Khalistani terror groups.

The NIA Act was amended in 2019 to allow the agency to investigate terrorist activities that target Indians and Indian missions in other countries. The FICN racket originating in Pakistan is taken to be an attack on India’s economy and sovereignty.

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