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In Bihar, Maoists are joining terror groups to smuggle fake Indian currency into the mainland.

Dangerous Liaison

 

SANJAY UPADHYAY | Issue Dated: July 21, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Dangerous Liaison | Maoists | Fake Indian currency notes |
 

In June this year, Muzaffarpur district’s then senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rajesh Kumar, in the course of a raid stumbled upon evidence which was most unMaoist-like - a den for printing Indian fake currency notes (IFCN).When his raiding party reached a hideout where suspected Left extremists had taken refuge, Kumar realized he was in the middle of a proliferating fake currency racket.

Three Maoists were picked up for allegedly supplying duplicate Indian currency in the immediate vicinity as well as the districts bordering Nepal. During the course of investigation, the kingpin Pramod Kumar revealed that equipments meant to manufacture fake currency were given to him and his team by Naresh Chowdhary, a suspected hard core Maoist.

Kumar told this magazine, ‘‘We conducted the raid after being tipped off about some persons striking a big deal at Laxmi Chowk. We recovered Rs one lakh worth of fake Indian currency. Main accused Pramod Kumar – along with seized documents - revealed in detail how this illegal trade flourished.’’

Pertinently, further investigations show the connivance of local Maoists acting in collusion with Nepali criminals. Pramod Kumar, who ran his own printing and computer centre, told the police he was in business for a couple of months. His modus operandi was simple. Pramod used to supply fake Indian currency to Naresh Chowdhary. ‘‘I was given Rs 10,000 for printing fake Indian currency worth Rs 50,000. Later, I was paid Rs 20 for each fake Rs 100 by Naresh,’’ Pramod Kumar told the police.

Fresh investigations reveal that Naresh Chowdhary provided Pramod with computer sets and other equipment like high resolution scanners and printers, all essential ingredients in the fake currency racket.

Bihar’s special branch is on the lookout for Naresh but the wily Maoist has invariably got away to one of his many safe houses in the state and in Nepal. Naresh, say the police, is a skilled software and hardware expert and is familiar with the tiny Himalayan kingdom,widely regarded as the haven for printing fake Indian currency. More importantly now, he is seen as the conduit between Indian and Nepalese Maoist groups, liaisoning between them, given his familiarity with the porous Indo-Nepal border. Known to be close to Nepal’s Maoist groups, Naresh’s arrest holds the key to just how deep the Naxalite involvement in the fake currency racket is.

Senior police officers say that Maoists are constantly looking for funds to run their campaign. After levying ‘taxes’ indiscriminately in Jharkhand and Bihar, FICN is proving to be a good bet to lure unsuspecting young men to the cause.  Though far from a general trend, intelligence agencies in the state and the centre are alert to the prospects that funding through alternate means such as this is tempting for Maoists. Interestingly, the probe into the Muzaffarpur raid, which opened up the can of worms, is still on. ‘‘The probe is still going on. This is a long and complicated issue. It can take a long time,’’ a senior intelligence officer told TSI. But well established Maoist groups in Bihar say that such activities do their ideology or organisation no good. Says one over ground Maoist leader: ‘‘Collecting and distributing FICN can ruin our credibility. We spent money mainly for two things: first, for purchase of arms and ammunitions and second, for our own maintenance. If we ditch our comrades plying them with fake currency, it could lead to a civil war-like situation within our organization. It is also quite likely that criminals have used this chance to come on board. Last year, we threw out some members misusing the name of our organisation.’’ He should know. Police say criminal activities are not new for Maoists. Says SK Bhardwaj, ADG, law and order, Bihar: ‘‘Maoists are not attached to ideology. They are pure criminals. They have looted banks and indulged in road robbery on the Indo-Nepal border. In Sheohar and Sitamarhi, they have indulged in other criminal activities. So why not use the fake currency racket for their benefit?’’

There is another worry. Fake currency notes are easier to detect in urban areas than rural. In the rural market, farmers may not be smart or skilled to identify between an original and a fake. It could lead to currency chaos in the village economy whose impact can hardly be overstated. Currently the Bihar police are scanning known and suspected red terror areas to examine the impact and depth of this emerging threat.

Importantly, Bihar police are in touch with their counterparts in other states. Police in West Bengal, for instance, suspect that Maoists and other terror outfits are forging an alliance to smuggle fake currency notes into the state. The police suspect that most of this currency is printed in Pakistan, brought to Bangladesh where it is taken across the Ganges to be channeled into the Indian mainland. There is a pretty good chance that Naresh Chowdhary is one of the important couriers who take this precise route.

sanjayupadhyay@thesundayindian.com

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017