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Fake Indian Currency Note racket in Bangladesh

03 Mar 2015

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Mohammad Mazhar Khan, Attache at the Consular section of Pakistani High Commission in Dhaka,

 was detained on January 12 for allegedly running an operation to smuggle Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) across the border. The objective was to undermine India’s financial system and fund terrorist groups. Samina Mahtab, First Secretary in Pak High Commission in Dhaka rushed to the Banani police station to take away Mazhar Khan and arrange for his deportation.

 

An ISI operative, Mazhar Khan was in the midst of a secret meeting at Banani at the time of his detention with his accomplice Mujibur Rahman, a Bangladeshi national who has been arrested. The Pak diplomat tore down some documents at the time of detention. From the pieces of papers, police found some Bangladeshi passport numbers and name of three persons actively involved with the militant Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

 

Mujibur Rahman who was arrested by the police revealed that he was introduced to the Pak diplomat through the latter’s predecessor. He further disclosed that he and another Bangladeshi national Jalal Akhter, took part in collection and distribution of FICN supplied by the Pak diplomat and pushing the same through West Bengal and Assam border into India. He also disclosed details of the Pak diplomat’s involvement in various anti-India subversive activities. Over the last two years of his posting in Dhaka, Mazhar Khan was busy implementing ISI’s various anti-India agenda.

 

According to Bangladesh intelligence reports, Mazhar Khan had close ties with some former military and police officers, some teachers of Dhaka University, businessmen, officials of Pak International Airlines and a section of Bangladeshi nationals living near India-Bangladesh borders. Bangladeshi nationals having links with Mazhar Khan were associated with various militant organizations in the country.

 

Involvement of Pakistani nationals in FICN smuggling is not a new phenomenon. In 2012, some Lashkar-e-Toiba activists were arrested in Bangladesh and counterfeit foreign currency valued at Tk 10 crore was recovered from them. Some D-Company activicts including Aftab Batki and Haji Abdullah have also come to notice for being actively involved in FICN trade.

 

The fake currency racket supported, financed and controlled by Pakistan and masterminded by ISI is not only flourishing, but has taken dangerous proportions. Counterfeit Indian notes printed in government security presses in Karachi and Lahore are sent to India daily by tempos, trucks, buses and flights. Pakistani government officials posted in Pak missions in various countries surrounding India are also involved in this racket.

 

Pak nationals based in Thailand have come to notice transporting high denomination Indian counterfeit notes, sent via businessmen, tourists and couriers visiting Thailand. With their help the Pak ISI orchestrated a well-charted smuggling racket dealing with counterfeit notes.

 

ISI has been actively operating from Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to implement its anti-India operations. There are reports that counterfeit Indian currency notes are being routed from Pakistan to India and Nepal through China to evade detection.

 

Bangladesh intelligence agencies have evidence that earnings through fake currency smuggling are given to radical outfits such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), Jamiatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Ansarullah Bangla Team and Jamaat for carrying out sabotage and subversive activities.

 

Solaiman alias Majumdar, a Bangladeshi kingpin of FICN racket, disclosed during interrogations that at the behest of Pak ISI, he entrusted two Bangladeshi militant organizations JMB and HUJI with smuggling of counterfeit notes. Detective Branch (DB) Assistant Commissioner S S Rafiqul Islam said that Solaiman had links with LeT.

 

One Sarfaraz, a Pak national who was arrested in 2010 in Kolkata along with counterfeit notes, was residing in Karnaphuli Garden City at Kakrail, Dhaka, where he owned an apartment. His wife Latifa Begum, a Bangladeshi national, claims that her husband was a cloth merchant and he used to visit Karachi and Kolkata regularly in connection with his business. At the time of arrest he was carrying fake notes with face value of INR 10 lakh. Sarfaraj used to visit Pakistan to collect fake notes and ensure their onward transmission to Kolkata.

 

On April 27, 2014 customs officials uncovered in the cargo area of Dhaka’s Shahjalal International airport a wooden box stashed with crisp fake Indian notes each of 1000 denomination totaling more than 60 million ($ 988,000). “The consignment came from Pakistan by a Qatar Airways flight. The bills were made in Pakistan, using highly sophisticated technology. We were unable to determine they were counterfeit with naked eyes at first glance” said Customs Intelligence and Investigations Department Director General Monirul Khan. This was the biggest haul since 2012 when detectives recovered INR 100 million ($1.7 million) in counterfeit money from a shopping mall in Dhaka’s Paltan area.

 

Well organized gangs engaged in manufacturing and marketing these fake notes have their roots deeply entrenched in Karachi from where these fake notes are smuggled into India mostly via Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

 

DB Deputy Commissioner Manirul Islam told media that these racketeers have strong support system located in Pakistan and without this, it would not have been possible for them to sustain their activities on such a large scale and over such a long period of time. Moreover, a number of militant organizations of Bangladesh are also involved in the process of smuggling of these notes.

 

Seven members of FICN racket including three Pakistani nationals were arrested in Dhaka last year by DB. Inspector General of Police A K M Shahidul Haque said that those  arrested admitted that  money earned by the racketeers are utilized for procurement of arms and strengthening organizational base of the militant outfits.

 

Those arrested disclosed that fake Indian currency notes are manufactured in Karachi and thereafter these are brought to Bangladesh by air with the help of women couriers. A Pakistani woman Rubina who was apprehended from a hotel in a posh locality in Dhaka on December 18, 2010 admitted during interrogation that from Karachi she used to bring fake Indian notes specially packed in a cover to evade detection.

 

Her visa, air ticket and hotel bookings were all arranged from Pakistan by the agents of a syndicate who used to bear all expenses incurred by her during her stay in Bangladesh. She further disclosed that she carried fake Indian currency notes amounting to INR 2 crore from Pakistan on her visit to Dhaka. Some individuals used to meet her at the hotel in Dhaka to collect the consignments and brief her about her next course of action. Police said they found names of at least eight other Pakistani women engaged in the same job.

 

Pakistani nationals Md Danish, Sabbir and Bangladeshi Fatema Akhtar were arrested from Mouchak area in Dhaka with 10 lakh counterfeit Indian currency on January 18 last year on the basis of information provided by Rubina. Md Danish was coordinator of all the fake currency rackets operating in Dhaka. A resident of Lahore, Danish married a Bangladeshi woman Fatema Akhtar and was residing at Rampura Bazar in Dhaka with his wife before his arrest. This year, Pakistani national Mohammad Imran was arrested at Shahjalal International Airport on January 15 with 80 lakh forged Indian notes. He came to Bangladesh with fake passport and visa.

 

DB has, in course of investigations, found out that a number of cloth merchants of Gousia market in Dhaka are also involved in this racket. Abdul Mannan, a cloth merchant, has been recently arrested. His brother Abdul Hannan, another cloth merchant at Gousia market, is at the forefront of a Pakistan based fake currency racket. Hannan used to visit Pakistan frequently under the pretext of purchasing clothes to establish contact with these gangs. He has been absconding as he is wanted by the police.

 

Mobasser Shahed, another Pak national, was arrested on January 6, 2010 from Uttara area in Dhaka and huge counterfeit currency notes were recovered from him. He was operating from Dhaka on instructions from his Pakistan based handlers. According to a report carried in Bengali daily Prothom Alo, Islamist militants belonging to JMB are sent to Pakistan in batches regularly to receive training on manufacturing fake Indian currency notes. On completion of training, they bring equipment and accessories as well as necessary technical know-how to manufacture the same in Bangladesh.

 

DB has information that JMB is associated with smuggling of fake Indian currency notes for a long period. Rafiqul Islam @ Zobaer, a Shura (highest policy making body) member of JMB was arrested on October 24, 2008 from Chapai Nawabganj. On a tip-off from him the police arrested two more persons from Meradia and Pallabi areas in Dhaka and recovered counterfeit Indian currency notes. They disclosed that many JMB activists have been assigned the job of marketing the fake currencies in India. Out of money thus earned Tk 50,000 are deposited in JMB coffer every month. They expressed the view that money earned by inflicting damage on the ‘enemy’ should be utilized in noble deeds like promoting ‘Jehad’ and staging Taliban like Islamic revolution in Bangladesh; and there was nothing wrong in it. 




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