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West Bengal turning into hub of fake Rs. 2,000 notes: Should intelligence agencies focus on Bangladesh?

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonetised Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes on November 8, 2016, one of the biggest reasons behind the move was said to be a crackdown on fake currencies. And the move did work for some time, but is reportedly losing steam steadily in West Bengal, where counterfeits of the newly introduced Rs. 2,000 notes are being seized in droves!

The development has prompted greater scrutiny of the border areas the state shares with Bangladesh. Concerns are rising that Pakistan is trying to flood India with fake currency routed into the country through Bangladesh, which calls for further scrutiny from the Indian intelligence community. 

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The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the West Bengal Police, in its gazette notifications, has said more than 1,000 fake Indian currency notes (FICNs) of Rs. 2,000 have been seized in the state in the first three months of 2017. Most of the seizures have happened in the district of Malda, which share a large section of its porous border with Bangladesh. 

According to the CID, the month of March alone saw the seizure of 774 fake Rs. 2,000 notes in the state, as compared to only one in January. Even earlier, the flow of fake notes had all but stopped from across the border, CID sources told local media. The number was 294 in February, bringing the three-month total to 1,069 fake Rs. 2,000 notes, or Rs 21.38 lakh worth of FICN. 

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Now, there have been other instances of fake notes cropping up across the country, but they have been few and far between. Even otherwise, these notes — purportedly from the Children Bank of India — appear to be part of some board games that have a degree of realism to them. However, one close look reveals that these are fake.

As for the fake notes caught in West Bengal, a CID official has been quoted by a Bengali daily as saying: “There is no count of how many such notes have already entered circulation. However, these are cheap counterfeits — colour printouts on high-quality paper cut to look like real Rs. 2,000 notes. The miscreants have not been able to crack the security codes yet.”

That Bangladesh has been used by Pakistan in its efforts to destabilise India has been known for quite some time. However, with the influx of these fake notes into India from the neighbouring country, the Indian intelligence establishment should formulate and implement a strategy to curb this. 

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