The trail of fake Indian currency notes entering the city has led the police to new players – illegal Bangladeshi migrants working as construction labourers and house help.
According to sources, the porous 172-km international border in West Bengal’s Malda district is the main route for smuggling fake currency into the country. Illegal migrants, police claimed, visit their villages in Bangladesh frequently and carry fake currency notes on their way back into the city, which they eventually spend in the city.
In the first two months of 2016, the Mumbai police have seized fake currency worth Rs3.18 lakh in five separate cases. Nine people have been arrested.
A major chunk of the fake currency -- Rs3 lakh -- was seized by unit 9 of the crime branch. A team headed by inspector Mahesh Desai arrested two men, Shahjahan Mia Murtaza and Khabirul Tehezib Shaikh from Behram Nagar in Bandra. The two men, originally residents of Dhaka, worked as labourers at construction sites in the city.
“The Malda border has a wall separating the two countries. The smugglers throw stacks of counterfeit currency across the wall, which are then collected by smugglers on the Indian side of the border, most of them locals from villages along the border. Small bundles of the fake currency notes are given to handlers, who transport it to various parts of the country. Crossing over to India costs anywhere between Rs2,000 and Rs5,000. Getting counterfeit currency into the city is not very difficult from there,” said a crime branch officer.
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Investigators said the smaller bundles are made to prevent a huge loss, in case a smuggler gets arrested.
According to officials, a smuggler has to spend Rs45,000 to get fake currency worth Rs1 lakh, which is usually in the denominations of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes.
“The Indo-Bangladesh border acts as the main channel for smuggling. Nowadays, most of the handlers are from Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand,” said Dhananjay Kulkarni, deputy commissioner and Mumbai police spokesperson.