Is Dawood Ibrahim still actively involved in sending fake currency notes to India using the porous Indo-Nepal border? The answer seems to be in the affirmative.
Tuesday's arrest of a Pakistani national and his Nepali associate at the Tribhuwan International Airport here gives indication that the underworld don is still using the same route.
Sheikh Mohammed Fukran, 48, a resident of Azizabad in Karachi, was arrested by a team of Nepali police after he landed here on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha.
Fake Indian currency notes worth Rs. 1 crore in denominations of 500 and 1000 were recovered from the false bottom of the suitcase carried by the accused, who was dressed as a Muslim preacher.
This is the second biggest haul of fake Indian currency at the airport this year since arrests of a Pakistani mother-son duo last month with Rs. 45 lakh. The two had arrived from Karachi on a PIA flight.
But it is the arrest of Mohammed's Nepali associate, Nurullah Miya, which has led the police to suspect Dawood's continued involvement in the fake currency racket operated in Nepal.
The 61-year-old, who was to receive the currency notes from Fukran, was being followed by the police. The owner of a travel agency in Kathmandu, Nurullah is said to have old ties with Dawood.
The Nepali citizen fled the country after the 2010 murder of Jamim Shah, a Nepali businessman alleged to be the mastermind of Dawood's fake currency racket in Nepal.
Nurullah stayed in Dubai for two years before returning. "We thought he had severed his ties (with Dawood). But started to keep a tab after noticing suspicious activities," 'Kantipur' quoted an unnamed police officer.
Police are also searching for a person called Anil Singh, a former associate of Jamim Shah, to whom Nurullah was to forward the fake currency to be further transported to India.
"There are reports that the accused could belong to Dawood's gang, but there is no official announcement in this regard. Investigation is on and we expect big disclosures in a couple of days," Nepal Police spokesperson Keshav Adhikary told Hindustan Times.
Nepal is a major route through which fake Indian currency originating from Pakistan is pushed to India. Agents use small time operators to send the money across the 1800 km open border.
Earlier, Pakistanis used to be the major carriers of fake currency. But with increased security measures, racketeers are using citizens of other countries and newer routes to smuggle the contraband into Nepal.
In 2011, Yunus Ansari, a Nepali politician-cum-media baron and an alleged Dawood associate who is in prison for involvement in the fake currency racket, was shot at by an Indian shooter inside jail.