Failing health and a bitter fall out with a top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander had threatened to nudge him into obscurity.
This led Syed Abdul Karim alias Tunda returning to what he knows best -- hurting India’s economy.
The first of his direct attempts in this direction had been serial blasts across Mumbai, which is deemed India’s financial capital. Now, it was time to hurt the country’s economy indirectly through circulating counterfeit currency.
“Because of his age, he couldn’t directly participate in terror operations and was beginning to seem somewhat of a liability to the LeT,” said an intelligence official.
What made matters worse was a bitter, ideological falling out which he had had with LeT operational head Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi in the early 2000s.
“So, in 2009, he was introduced to another Lahore-based, Indian-origin ISI asset - Iqbal Kana -who is suspected to push at least R1,600 crore of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) into the country every year. He had a tremendous presence in north Delhi’s Jama Masjid and Sadar Bazar areas,” said the official.
In fact, it was a joint operation involving a counterfeit money trail by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) which led to Tunda. The information was then passed over to the Intelligence Bureau (IB). He was put under surveillance and subsequently arrested by the Delhi Police special cell.
Police sources echoed their counterparts in the IB when it came to admitting that Tunda had been actively involved in an international fake Indian national currency (FICN) racket for the past four years.
“Tunda was made to use his local contacts and associations with local traders and friends near his place of birth in old Delhi and his place of origin in Ghaziabad’s Pilkhuwa to establish a chain of stop-over points at which FICN changes hands. After this it was smuggled into the country and slowly injected into the local economy thereafter,” said the official.
Kana, who is originally a resident of Kairana in UP’s Muzaffarnagar, operates a fancy items shop in Lahore and mainly deals with ‘Savaris’ or frequent couriers to Pakistan from the Muzaffarnagar area.
At the time of going to the press, a joint team of the IB, the R&AW and the special cell was questioning Tunda at the cell’s Lodhi Colony unit.