Militants and extremists have been known to recruit children to carry out their activities in strife-torn areas. Evidence emerged yesterday that children are also being deployed in fake Indian currency note (FICN) trade by international gangs.
Sleuths of the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI), acting on a tip-off, on Thursday intercepted a bus coming from Siliguri in West Bengal at Chakia toll post near Muzaffarpur, about 90km north of Patna.
They were taken aback when the FICN carrier turned out to be a 14-year-old boy. The teenager, identified as a resident of Kumarbagh Chowk in West Champaran district, was carrying fake notes of Rs 500 and Rs1000 denominations with a total face value of Rs 1.06 lakh.
During interrogation, the boy broke down and revealed how one 'Dada' had handed over to him the FICN consignment to be carried to Motihari town in East Champaran district, where a person would be waiting to collect it.
He also confessed he had been a carrier a couple of times earlier as well. Not only that, a few other kids are also being used by the gang for such purposes, he said. The arrested boy was produced in Muzaffarpur economic offences court and sent to a remand home.
"This 'Dada' is a notorious FICN smuggler who operates from the India-Bangladesh border. He brings the fakes from Bangladesh and then circulates them across India," added the DRI official.
He said the children are recruited by these gangs believing security agencies won't suspect them.
"Moreover, these minors are often unaware about the gravity of the crime," said a DRI official.
He recalled how the DRI last August busted a gang that was using young girls to smuggle fake notes.
On March 21 this year, a 14-year-old boy was caught by the police while he was trying to circulate fake currency notes in Katihar town in north-east Bihar.
The boy was caught when he was trying to buy a mobile phone from a store.
"The shopkeeper grew suspicious when the boy demanded a very expensive mobile phone set and informed the town police," police said.
The boy was taken into custody and 20 fake currency notes of Rs 500 denomination were recovered from him.
In the past too, children have been caught peddling fake currency. In October 2008, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) had nabbed two 15-year-old boys from Bihar at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station for allegedly circulating counterfeit currency.
Fake notes of Rs 1,07,500 lakh face value were seized from them.
In July 2009, the police in Devarajeevanahalli (Bangalore) had busted a fake currency racket and arrested a 14-year-old boy from Bihar who was allegedly part of the gang circulating counterfeit notes.
The police had said the gang members were from Motihari district of Bihar and had come to Bangalore to circulate fake notes in the IT hub under the garb of doing menial jobs. Fake notes of Rs 500 denomination with a face value of Rs 10 lakh were seized from them.
Revenue intelligence officials also said fake currency gangs were now smuggling small consignments to avoid detection and cut down losses in case the couriers are caught. An official said fake notes having a total face value of Rs18 lakh were recovered from nine persons so far this year.
Other agencies such as Bihar police, Sashastra Seema Bal and Narcotics Control Bureau have also seized fake notes with a face value of Rs 20 lakh this year.