The design of high-value Indian currency notes has changed. However, what hasn’t changed is the vast network of smuggling FICN (Fake Indian Currency Note) in Kaliachak, Malda and adjoining areas.
Kaliachak was, and remains the nerve centre of FICN smuggling in eastern India. Intelligence agencies are alarmed that FICN makers are copying ever-increasing number of security features in high-value fake currency.
Initially, low quality colour photocopies were replaced by high-quality offset prints.
Intelligence sources say that the old, traditional route of cross-border counterfeit currency smuggling is still active in Malda district.
Police and BSF have claimed that increased vigil, lighting up the border, fencing and intense patrolling has brought down instances of smuggling. There seems to be some truth in these claims as the seizure of FICN along this border have actually declined in the recent past.
However, sources said that NIA sleuths were wondering if the volume of smuggling had really gone down or something more sinister is brewing. Usually, once the rainy season ends and the water in the border rivers go down they can be easily crossed and smuggling usually sees a spike during October-November.
Sources said that some of their apprehension may have come true. While the older routes in at Kaliachak have remained active, operations have been diversified. The FICN cartel was using newer routes.
Areas in and near Kaliachak, like Mohabbatpur, Golapganj, Hadinagar, Milik Sultanpur, Ghoshtola are some of the newer routes.
The modus operandi remains very simple. There is usually no large consignment. WhatsApp calls are made and bundles of FICN wrapped in plastic and towels are just thrown across the border, then picked up. The dense fog during the winters makes their job easier. Then it gets disbursed across India.
Some of the popular routes are from Baisnabnagar across the Ganga to Dhulian in Murshidabad. Sleuths of the NIA are suspecting that Nimtita and Samsherganj in Murshidabad are two of the newer smuggling routes.
The unfenced riverine borders pose a unique challenge to security agencies. The over 1100 km riverine border includes the vast Brahmaputra, the Icchamati and the ever-changing tidal mangroves of the Sunderbans – 300 kms of it – are to be eventually covered with infra ray pillars and smart sensors.