3 November 2001
INDIA TO TAKE US HELP ON ECO-TERRORISM UNLEASHED BY PAKISTAN
An exclusive by Jal Khambata
NEW DELHI: India is rushing to the United States one more proof of Pakistan unleashing terrorism against it, but this time it is all about "Eco-terrorism" through fake Indian currency that threatens to disrupt and destabilise the country's economy.
A "Data Bank" on fake currency is being established to keep track of this new brand of terrorism that has gained ominous proportions recently and henceforth the fake currency would be tackled on the same war footings as intrusions of borders by the armed forces of an enemy country.
Seizures from the Pakistani nationals in various parts of country as well as at the Attari customs checkpost will be cited to the United States as the telltale evidence of the fake currency notes being pushed into India by the Pakistani authorities.
The fake currency will be now examined at each and every meeting of the National Security Council that meets off and on to examine the security threat perceptions, according to sources in the council's secretariat. They said the council has already rushed out a series of urgent steps needed to unearth the source from which these fake currency notes are coming.
The Reserve Bank of India plans to install sophisticated electronic equipment at all important zonal and regional branches of all nationalised banks to examine all higher denomination currency notes as its officials say that was the only way to detect the counterfeit notes that cannot be easily checked with naked eyes even by the experienced bank staff.
The United States' help is being sought since the speciality paper used for printing the fake currency notes is originating from America and quite possible these notes are also printed in the sophisticated printing facilities in America and Europe, a top source in the Home Ministry disclosed.
The Government has belatedly found out that the same US company, Portal, that provides paper to India for the currency notes was also the supplier of paper to Pakistan and hence it has been decided, in principle, to cancel further supplies from this company and look for other paper suppliers, the source said.
Since the paper goes direct to the printing presses for producing the currency notes in the desired denomination on behalf of the buyer country, India is seeking the American help to check supplies made by this particular company and ascertain the quantity of the currency notes printed and whose behalf.
The Indian currency notes are requisitioned only by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and hence the RBI authorisations to the foreign presses would be furnished to nab anybody producing the Indian currency without such an authorisation, the source said.
Next week, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) would be meeting to deal exclusively at length the menace of "eco-terrorism" unleashed by Paksitan by flooding various parts of India with the fake currency notes, in most cases the notes of the high denomination value of Rs 500. The committee will also examine recommendations made by the National Security Council and direct the concerned ministries to implement them immediately.
Since 95 per cent of the Rs 500 notes are being got printed by the RBI from abroad, an investigation has also been launched to find out if any of these security presses had breached the contract by helping out Pakistan to produce the fake currency notes. Maybe, any one press could have collaborated with Pakistan or someone may have stolen the needed inputs to produce the notes which are very difficult to be differentiated from the original currency notes.
The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) has been directed to furnish monthly reports to both the CCS and the National Security Council (NSC) about the fake currency notes to enable them to work out a national strategy. The State Governments have been asked to coordinate with NCRB by furnishing details of the seizures of the fake currency notes without loss of time.
Uttar Pradesh tops with the highest seizures of the fake Rs 500 denomination notes worth about Rs 7 crores in the last ten months while Andhra Pradesh is the second state flush with the fake currency notes as noted from the seizures exceeding Rs 5 crores. Maharashtra comes next with the seizures totalling about Rs 4 crores.
A task force under the chairmanship of Director-General, Economic Intelligence Bureau, has been constituted with representatives from various agencies to monitor on a regular basis the developments in regard to the fake currency notes and provide regular inputs to the secretariat of the National Security Council.
Since influx of the fake currency notes has acquired gigantic proposition, the Government has decided to include a representative of the Reserve Bank of India also on both the high-powered committees -- CCS and NSC.
Union Finance Secretary Ajit Kumar has written a stinking letter to RBI chairman Bimal Jalan, complaining that the Reserve Bank has been reticent about the fake currency as there are very little inputs from it to help the government in dealing with the menace.
In a "secret" note to the Central Boards of Direct Taxes and Excise and Customs, the Finance Ministry has pointed out that "the issue of printing, smuggling and circulation of fake Indian currency notes (FICN) is gaining ominous proportions and needs immediate counter measures to thwart and preempt the subversive designs of the anti-national forces in order to protect the security of the country."
A massive exercise is on within the government to develop operational intelligence on groups operating the fake currency rackets. All concerned at the Centre and the State Governments have been directed to share the intelligence inputs and assessments with the Economic Intelligence Bureau which will act as the nodal agency to prepare monthly reports in close coordination with the National Crime Record Bureau.
The latest circular sent out to various agencies requires them "to intimate to the Economic Intelligence Bureau on a monthly basis necessary details of the seizures made of fake currency and the modus operandi involved." In case of significant seizure of the high quality fake notes, the bureau is required to be intimated "on an immediate basis."
Stress has been laid on finding out from the culprits nabbed with the fake currency notes the source of their acquisition as the circular stresses that simple seizures were not enough unless the government is able to identify the source from which these fake notes are emanating and entering the country. END