When Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made the bold move to demonetise Rs. 500 and Rs 1000 on November 8 last year, he cited counterfeit currency as one of the main reasons. While PM Modi’s intent was right but it has taken barely two months for Pakistan-based counterfeiters to come out with fake Rs 2,000 notes, according to The Indian Express report. The money is being pumped into the country via the permeable India-Bangladesh border. The shocking details were surfaced following recent arrests and seizures made by National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Border Security Force (BSF), the report says.
Taking notice of the issue, MoS Home Kiren Rijiju said, “If there is fake currency/hoarding of assets we are serious about it.”
Recently, A 26-year-old man, who hails from Malda in West Bengal, was arrested in Murshidabad for carrying 40 fake notes of Rs 2,000 denomination. During the interrogation, the accused revealed that fake notes had been printed in Pakistan, allegedly with the help of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). It has been learned that smugglers were required to pay Rs 400-600 in genuine currency for each fake Rs 2,000 note, depending on the quality, the report says.
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Shockingly, the seized notes have showed that at least 11 of the 17 security features in the new Rs 2,000 notes had been replicated. They included the transparent area, watermark, Ashoka Pillar emblem, the letters ‘Rs 2000’ on the left, the guarantee clause with the RBI governor’s signature and the denomination number in Devanagari on the front, the report says. According to experts, the motif of Chandrayaan, the Swachh Bharat logo and the year of printing had been copied on the reverse side. Although the print and paper quality of the seized counterfeits were poor, they resembled genuine notes, it says. Besides, the seized notes had the water mark and a crackling sound, similar to genuine currency, the report says.
As per the report, the first known attempt to smuggle fake currency was made in the last week of December 2016, when samples from across the border were sent for approval to smugglers in Malda. The first seizures of such notes were recorded on January 22 and on February 4, when Piyarul Sheikh (16) and Digamber Mondol (42), both from Kaliachak in Malda, were arrested by the local police and NIA.
According to officials of the Securities Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL), the newly introduced notes had no additional security features and were similar to those in the old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. According to a 2016 study conducted by the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in Kolkata, the value of Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) in circulation was pegged at Rs 400 crore.
Union Finance Ministry had informed a Parliamentary Committee that smuggling of fake currency has totally stopped post demonetisation and the tax department has seized Rs 515 crore in cash, including Rs 114 crore of new currency notes, up to January 10. According to sources, in its response to the Public Accounts Committee over queries on demonetisation, the Finance Ministry said it has also detected undisclosed income of Rs 4,172 crore in search and seizure operations between November 9-December 28, 2016. Banning of 500 and 1000 rupee notes was intended to curb terror financing and as per the Intelligence reports the smuggling of fake notes has come to a “total halt”, the finance ministry had said.