In what is being called the largest haul in West Bengal since demonetisation, a man was arrested in Murshidabad district with 40 fake notes of Rs 2,000, virtually confirming apprehensions of security agencies that the counterfeit industry was working overtime in the state.
Murshidabad district shares the border with Bangladesh through which fake currency is smuggled into India.
The district that was once a seat of nawabs is located just beside Malda -- known to be the fake currency hub of the country. It is believed that Kaliachak and Baishnabnagar areas of Malda have a large number of couriers for carrying fake currency, most of which are printed in Pakistan and routed through Bangladesh.
Incidentally, in the 11-day window between January 23 and February 4 police in Malda made two arrests with forged notes of Rs 2,000, raising their worst fears.
On Wednesday, around 12.30pm, working on a tip off, a special team from Islampur police station in Murshidabad nabbed Azizur Rahaman, 26, from Chapraghat area. A search led to the seizure of 40 notes of Rs 2,000 from his possession.
“It is the largest haul in Bengal, and to our knowledge, there hasn’t been a bigger one in the country since demonetisation,” said a senior police officer of the district.
“We have examined the notes and have found all of them to be fake. We are going to seek police custody (of the accused) for interrogation,” said Murshidabad superintendent of police Mukesh.
The police officer added that the accused Rahaman might have come to Murshidabad to hand over the notes to somebody. “We are yet to find out how he got hold of so many counterfeit notes after demonetisation.”
A senior officer of the district told HT, “Rahaman hails from Pardewnapur village under Baishnabnagar police station in Malda. He came to Murshidabad to hand over the counterfeit notes to a tout at the border of Lalbagh and Berhampore. We are trying to trace that tout.”
Police have slapped charges of using as genuine, forged or counterfeit currency notes and possession of forged or counterfeit currency notes under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code against Rahaman.
On February 4, Digambar Mondal, an office bearer of the Congress-run Kaliachak-III panchayat samiti, was arrested by Baishnabnagar police from 17 Mile area with two counterfeit notes of face value Rs 2,000. The 42-year-old was sent to four days in police custody by a district court.
On January 23, Baishnabnagar police detained a 15-year-old from Bakhrabad village with a counterfeit note of Rs 2,000.
Officials are worried because the fake notes have been seized within just three months of the Centre’s demonetisation drive, which was aimed at weeding out fake currency. Malda accounts for about 80% of the fake currency that comes into India through Bangladesh.
Police officers told HT that the arrest of Azizur has proved that fake currency smugglers of Malda have succeeded in spreading counterfeit notes in several places.