File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
Security agencies posted in border states, including the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Border Security Force (BSF), have been told to keep a watchful eye on the activities of suspected racketeers smuggling fake Indian currency into the country.
These racketeers are said to be using Bangladesh and Pakistan as their bases.
Senior security officials told DNA that, so far, reports coming in from areas along the Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangladesh borders, following the demonetization measures, were "positive".
However, they add that there were intelligence inputs about the possible counterfeiting of the newly introduced Rs 2,000 note (roughly $30).
The manufacturing of fake currency is mostly based in Pakistan. The Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) network there has taken a hit following the demonetization announcement, and intelligence agencies believe individuals might attempt to counterfeit currency locally. However, they believe that this will not succeed.
"The machines used to make the fake currency are highly sophisticated and can be owned only by sovereign governments as was found in our probes (between 2010 to 2016). The ones in India, if any left, are of sub-standard quality," said an NIA official. So, only a small fraction of fake currencies are manufactured in India.
While officials contend that it is too soon for syndicates in Pakistan and Bangladesh to try to replicate the Rs 2,000 note, one instance of an individual possessing a fake note has already been reported.
Officials say that an individual was detained on Thursday in the Bhikhiwind area of Tarn Taran district in the Majha region of Punjab for allegedly possessing a fake note. The fake note with serial number 4CA 102501 and similar looking note, both of Rs 2,000 denomination, was confiscated and the man has been taken into questioning.
"Even though there are no reports of any mass production of fake currency in India we are not taking any information on fake notes lightly," a senior BSF official said. The official added that while the time being is considered as a "lull period" for the smuggling of FICN, the situation might change when the new denomination hits the markets freely.
Intelligence officials told DNA that a close watch is being kept, especially in Punjab and the Malda area of West Bengal, through which 90 per cent of fake Indian currency is suspected to be entering India. The NIA has, in the past, investigated multiple syndicates operating in areas like Baishnabnagar, Mojompur, Kaliachak and Sujapur in West Bengal.
According to a senior NIA official, at least four cases of FICN, one in 2012, two in 2015 and one in 2016, are being probed at the moment. "The arrests made in the subsequent probe into these four cases did serve a crucial blow to the FICN network in Malda. However, the syndicates are not completely weeded out from the region," he said.
(This report was first published in DNA)