Security Forces (BSF) were recently shocked to find that Bangladesh stamp paper -- printed only in government presses -- was used for counterfeiting Indian notes that were smuggled in bulk into the country through Bengal after demonetisation. The fake Indian currency notes (FICN) printed on stamp paper were of ‘good’ quality and these copied most security features of the bonafide currency.
Earlier, it was believed that fake Indian currency was printed in Pakistan and most of which was routed into India through the Bangladesh-Bengal border.
BSF has already sent a report from Bengal to its headquarters in Delhi alerting them of the discovery.
If the seizure of fake currency within a few weeks of demonetisation shocked agencies such as BSF and police, the discovery that it was printed on stamp paper has come as a double whammy.
“Experts have told us the fake notes were made using Bangladeshi stamp paper. The texture of the paper is good. Many of the security features have been successfully copied. The FICN seized is of good quality and difficult to tell from the bonafide ones,” P S R Anjaneyulu, inspector general of BSF (South Bengal) told HT.
Shariful Shah, 32, who was arrested on February 19 in Malda with 48 fake notes of Rs 2,000 have admitted that he got the notes from Chapai Nawabganj in Bangladesh which is just across the border in Malda.
“It seems that Bangladesh soil is used to manufacture counterfeit notes that is sneaked into India, mostly through Malda. However, we are also aware that a section of the notes are still being made in Pakistan, which is of the best quality and almost similar to real notes,” said a senior BSF officer.
In the Rs 2,000 notes seized from Malda (printed in Bangladesh) about 10 of the 17 security features have been copied in the notes including the design, colour pattern, number pattern, see through water mark, portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, Swachh Bharat logo and slogan, motif of Magalayan (reflecting India’s first venture into interplanetary space).
There are deeper implications -- it is impossible to procure stamp paper in bulk except without active cooperation of a section of government employees.
“If one has to buy a stamp paper in Bangladesh, one has to reveal identity similar to the process in India. So if the counterfeiters have to ensure a regular and bulk supply of the stamp paper, it is not possible without the collusion with a section of the government employees,” remarked a source.
Earlier it was believed that FICN was manufactured in different parts of Pakistan. With the help of its intelligence agency ISI, the consignments used to reach Nepal and Bangladesh, from where a bulk was smuggled into Indian through the porous border of Malda district in north Bengal before spreading throughout India.
The stamp paper is of better quality, though a little bit thicker than the paper used earlier. It prevents the ink on one side to create an impression on the other.
“Since the paper is of good quality it is easy to apply the water mark of Mahatma Gandhi on it. The colour print is also better and lasts long. Since the stamp paper increases the like of the notes, it remains fresh and does not trigger suspicion when it is eventually distributed in the markets in India,” said a BSF source.
“We are receiving full co-operation from Bangladesh government and its security forces to curb the menace,” Anjaneyulu added.
BSF alone has seized counterfeit notes with face value of Rs 2.96 lakh in Malda district since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation on November 8 2016 culling 86% of the currency in circulation on November 8 last year.