Kolkata

Despite arrests, Bengal’s FICN hub still active

On September 3, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested an alleged smuggler of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN), Enamul Haque, from Mohanpur village in Malda. A press statement by the NIA said he was wanted in a case of FICN smuggling in Hyderabad since 2018 and carried a reward of ₹25,000 on his head.

In August, two more people were arrested by the NIA and the South Bengal Frontier of the Border Security Force (BSF) on charges of being involved in smuggling FICN. Sadek Mia (51), a resident of police station Kaliachak, was arrested on August 19 and Rahaman S.K. (34), a resident of Baishnabnagar, was arrested on August 8.

Information obtained from the South Bengal Frontier of BSF revealed that 12 cases have been registered for smuggling of FICN so far this year and nine arrests have been made. FICN of face value ₹26.13 lakh have been seized by the BSF alone this year.

“The BSF and other security agencies are vigilant not to allow any FICN to get into the system. The seizures and arrests are an outcome of our efforts,” S.S. Guleria, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) and public relations officer, South Bengal Frontier BSF, said.

Smugglers hub

Officers of several security agencies said Malda, particularly Kaliachak and Baishnabnagar border, has emerged as the hub of smuggling of FICN. Despite repeated crackdowns there are still instances of smuggling of FICN from across the border in this region, they said.

In fact, months after demonetisation (November 8, 2016) the first incident of smuggling of counterfeit new currency in the country came to fore in mid February 2018, where a consignment of ₹2,000 notes was seized at Churiantpur in Kaliachak.

The brief stretch remains a concern for intelligence agencies because of the porous border, populations living close to the international border on both sides and organised criminal networks operating on both sides of the borders.

In 2017, the South Bengal Frontier of the BSF seized FICN of face value ₹61.38 lakh, which declined to ₹34.94 lakh in 2018. In 2019, FICN of face value ₹31.07 lakh was seized and in 2020 (September 3) the seizure of FICN of ₹26.13 lakh was achieved. Nearly 75 people have been arrested for being involved in the smuggling of FICN in the region.

Not high quality

For the security agencies the advantage is that FICN seized is not of high quality as it was in the pre-demonetisation period. “In some cases we find that the fake currency seized are just photocopies of currency mainly pushed as a test case to see if they slip into the system,” Mr. Guleria said.

While in 2018 and 2019, fake currency notes of ₹2,000 denomination were seized this year most of fake currency notes seized are of the denomination of ₹500 as notes of ₹2,000 are mostly out of circulation.

A senior officer, involved in coordination with different agencies, said with multiple agencies cracking down on the criminal network there have been arrests all across the country which has come as a major setback to the operatives.

“The target of these operators is not only to smuggle FICN in Malda and Murshidabad but to spread this currency all across the country, with arrests happening not only in the region but across different States the country, the network of FICN operators has turned weak,” the officer said.


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Printable version | May 14, 2022 6:10:46 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/despite-arrests-bengals-ficn-hub-still-active/article32533193.ece