September 14, 2011

Fake Indian Currency Note Racket in Bangladesh

Guest column by Rajeev Sharma

Solaiman alias Majumdar, Bangladeshi kingpin of Pakistan based fake Indian currency note racket, was arrested in Dhaka recently, along with another associate Abdul Mannan. Solaiman is widely known as Majumdar among international smugglers and dealers of fake Indian currency notes. Solaiman hails from Comilla but was residing in Gulshan area of Dhaka. He was in charge of carrying fake Indian currency consignments from Pakistan to Bangladesh and coordinating with other agents to facilitate entry of these consignments into India via Nepal.

Solaiman disclosed during interrogation that at the behest of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, he entrusted two Bangladeshi militant organizations Jamiatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HUJI) with smuggling of fake Indian currency notes. Both Solaiman and Abdul Mannan admitted to their involvement in smuggling of fake Indian currency notes, drugs and ‘hundi’ business. Detective Branch (DB) Assistant Commissioner S S Rafiqul Islam said that Solaiman had links with Bangladesh chapter of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) chief Maulana Tajuddin, now hiding in Pakistan to evade arrest for his involvement in grenade attack on Awami League rally on August 21, 2004. He is brother of BNP leader and former Minister Abdus Salam Pintu. Pintu is presently in jail for his involvement in the recent BDR mutiny. Solaiman also admitted that he was getting supply of these fake Indian currency notes from Maulana Tajuddin.

Earlier two HUJI activists Mursalin and Muttakin who were also involved in the August 21, 2004 bomb attack on Awami League rally in Dhaka and who are presently in Indian jail have confessed during interrogation by Delhi Police that they were engaged in smuggling of fake Indian currency notes. They also said that they were doing this under instructions from their party high command and that they were getting supply of these notes from the BNP leader and former minister Abdus Salam Pintu’s brother Maulana Tajuddin.

DB has launched a manhunt in Chankharpul area in Dhaka to arrest Mahtab, a kingpin of another racket. His brother Aftab has already been arrested. Sarfaraz who was arrested in Kolkata on December 19, 2008, was a leader of this racket. Sarfaraz is a Pakistani national who was residing in Karnaphuli Garden City at Kakrail, Dhaka, where he owns an apartment. His wife Latifa Begum, a Bangladeshi national, claims that her husband is a cloth merchant and he used to visit Karachi and Kolkata regularly in connection with his business. DB Deputy Commissioner Manirul Islam told media that these rackets have strong Pakistan links and without Pakistan’s support and cooperation it would not have been possible for them to sustain their activities on such a large scale for such a long period. Sarfaraj was arrested by Kolkata Police along with fake Indian currency notes with face value of 10 lakh.

Sarfaraj was a cloth merchant and he used to visit Pakistan frequently in connection with his business. He used to visit Pakistan to collect fake Indian currency notes and ensure onward transmission of the notes to Kolkata, he admitted during interrogations. Well organized gangs engaged in fake Indian currency note manufacturing and marketing have their roots deeply entrenched in Karachi, Pakistan, from where these fake notes are smuggled into India via Bangladesh. A number of religion based militant organizations of Bangladesh are also involved in the whole process of smuggling of these currency notes. Seven members of this gang including three Pakistani nationals were recently arrested in Dhaka by DB. Dhaka Police Commissioner A K M Shahidul Haque disclosed that according to the arrested counterfeit Indian counterfeit currency dealers, money earned by the racketeers are utilized for procurement of arms and strengthening organizational base of the Pakistan based militant outfits.

The arrested Pakistani nationals have disclosed during interrogation that fake Indian currency notes are made in Karachi and thereafter these are brought to Bangladesh by air with the help of women couriers. A Pakistani woman Rubina was apprehended from a hotel in a posh locality in Dhaka on December 18, 2009. Rubina has admitted during interrogation by DB that from Karachi she used to bring fake Indian notes specially packed in a cover to evade detection. Her visa, air ticket and hotel bookings were all arranged from Pakistan by the agents of a syndicate who used to bear all expenses incurred by her during her stay in Bangladesh. She further disclosed that she carried fake Indian currency notes amounting to INR 2 crore from Pakistan on her each visit to Dhaka. Some individuals used to meet her at the hotel in Dhaka to collect the notes and brief her about her next course of action. She also disclosed names of 7/8 other Pakistani women who are also engaged in the same job. Police said they found names of at least eight other Pakistani women. They suspect that seven groups were engaged in smuggling fake Indian currency notes.

Md Danish, a Pakistani national, who was arrested in Dhaka on the basis of information provided by Rubina, was coordinator of all the fake Indian currency note rackets operating in Dhaka. He used to assign different tasks to members of these rackets (such as collection of notes from predetermined places and their onward transmission to some strategic locations from where these are smuggled into India) and monitor their activities. A resident of Lahore, Danish married a Bangladeshi woman Fatema and was residing at Rampura Bazar in Dhaka with his wife before his arrest. DB arrested Danish, his wife Fatema and another Pakistani national Sabbir from Mouchak area in Dhaka on January 18, 2010, along with fake notes with face value of INR 10 lakh. They were produced in the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Dhaka, on January 21, 2010. Based on their statement, DB arrested another Pakistani national Zahid Hasan from Rayerbagh area in Dhaka the next day.

DB has, in course of investigations, found out that a number of cloth merchants of Gousia market in Dhaka are also involved in this racket. Abdul Mannan, a cloth merchant, has been recently arrested. His brother Abdul Hannan, another cloth merchant at Gousia market, is at the forefront of a Pakistan based fake Indian currency racket. Hannan used to visit Pakistan frequently under the pretext of purchasing clothes to establish contact with these gangs. He has been absconding as he is wanted by the DB. Pakistani national Sabbir was also operating from Gousia market under the guise of a cloth merchant.

Another Pakistani national Mobasser Shahed was arrested on January 6, 2010 from Uttara area in Dhaka and huge fake Indian currency notes were recovered from him. He admitted that he was operating from Dhaka on instructions from his Pakistani handlers. Informed circles in Dhaka revealed that the JMB members are sent to Pakistan in batches to receive training on how to manufacture fake Indian currency notes very meticulously in order to evade detection. On completion of training, they bring equipment and accessories as well as necessary technical know-how to manufacture the same in Bangladesh. A JMB controlled fake Indian currency note racket has been operating from Meradia and Mirpur area in Dhaka.

DB has information that the militant organization JMB is associated with smuggling of fake Indian currency notes for a long period. Rafiqul Islam @ Zobaer, a Shura (highest policy making body) member of JMB was arrested on October 24, 2008 from Chapai Nawabganj. On a tip-off from him the police arrested two more JMB activists from Meradia and Pallabi areas in Dhaka and recovered huge fake Indian currency notes. They disclosed that many JMB activists have been assigned the job of marketing the fake currencies in India. Out of money thus earned Tk 50,000 are deposited in JMB fund every month. They expressed the view that money earned by inflicting damage on the ‘enemy’ should be utilized in noble deeds like promoting ‘Jehad’ and staging Taliban like Islamic revolution in Bangladesh; and there was nothing wrong in it.