Smuggling of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) from abroad has shown an increase prompting financial intelligence agencies to keep a strict watch anticipating surge with Lok Sabha elections round the corner.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), country's lead agency to check smuggling, has found that neighbouring Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh among others have fast emerged as new routes for smugglers to push Pakistan-printed fake currency notes, official sources said.
The DRI officials have during April, 2013 and January this year registered five such cases outside India and seized FICN with face value of Rs 15 lakh.
As many as eight people, including three Pakistani nationals, were arrested in a joint operation by officials of the DRI and respective countries abroad, the sources said.
During 2012-13, eight cases of smuggling of FICN from abroad were registered. About 14 people, including five Pakistanis, were arrested in this connection. FICN with face value of Rs 6.35 lakh were seized during these cases, they said.
Besides, the smuggling of FICN is being routed to India via Vietnam and Malaysia, they said.
"The arrests in FICN cases during last and current fiscals were made outside India. There were high quality Fake Indian Currency Notes seized. The intelligence shows that they were printed in Pakistan," a senior DRI official said.
He said it is very difficult to ascertain the genuineness of these notes with the naked eye.
Sources suspect that the smuggling of FICN may increase ahead of Lok Sabha polls. "Despite check, there have been few reported instances where FICN were being pushed from abroad ahead of elections," a source said.
One of the reasons of FICN smuggling is easy availability of transporters or carriers. Smugglers lure mostly poor people to illegally carry fake currency notes to India by giving them good money, the sources said.
The DRI officials have between April 2013 and January this year registered 11 cases involving fake currency of face value of Rs 96 lakh in these cases. As many as 17 people, including one minor, were arrested by the DRI officials in these cases, they said.
Whereas in 2012-13, 15 such cases were registered by the DRI which had resulted in seizure of fake currency notes of face value Rs 2 crore. As many as 23 people, including one Pakistani national, were arrested in the last fiscal, the sources added.
The DRI officials claimed to have found, in almost all the cases registered within the country, that the seized