On Monday, February 20, 2017 in West Bengal’s Malda district, the Border Security Force (BSF) confiscated 48 notes of Rs. 2000 and arrested a man acting as a courier. In the last three weeks totally Rs. 4 Lakh worth of Rs. 2000 notes have been seized in multiple events from the area. In some, the couriers slipped away.
How Serious is the Problem?
On Monday, February 20, 2017 in West Bengal’s Malda district, the Border Security Force (BSF) confiscated 48 notes of Rs. 2000 and arrested a man acting as a courier. In the last three weeks totally Rs. 4 Lakh worth of Rs. 2000 notes have been seized in multiple events from the area. In some, the couriers slipped away. In three instances, the number of notes found has been as little as one to three. Reportedly, the fake notes have 10 of 17 security features. NIA has been asked to prepare a detailed report in two weeks.
How does the Operation Work?
Malda, before the change in currency, was the notorious for counterfeit currency and illegal smuggling operations. Kaliachak constituency houses many kingpins that ran these operations. The border between India and Bangladesh is porous. 30% of 176km of Malda’s border is unfenced. Barbed-wire fences, where present, are not a deterrent enough. Smugglers throw packets of counterfeit currency across the border, which is picked up by couriers on the Indian side. Intelligence agencies allege that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) supplies the fake notes and collaborates with operators in India.
What Does This Imply?
Seizures of fake currency have been made within hundred days of the introduction of the new notes. This may serve to undermine the objective of the move. Concerns emerge from the confiscation of Rs. 4 Lakhs in fake currency and the get-away of some couriers. The probability of a larger amount having slipped into the country is of consternation. The improving quality of fake notes with many security features incorporated is also a cause for worry. The possibility of more features being imitated in the future could mean supply is also increased; at the same time making it more difficult to trace.
The current seizure being of a relatively small amount is not significant in its present impact on the economy. The roll out of Rs. 2000 notes makes the counterfeiter’s job easier as each note is of a higher value. To counter future threat of larger supplies, it is imperative that deft action is taken to accurately identify the source of the higher quality of counterfeit money and terminate their operations. Heightened securing of borders alone will not solve the issue as alternate routes may be established.