Fake notes network still up and running

Despite demonetisation, counterfeit currency racket is spread far and wide in the country, reveals an investigative report by Tehelka SIT.

In the wake of the latest Reserve Bank of India report, which says counterfeit notes of all denominations increased in the financial year 2021-22, Tehelka has carried out investigation on counterfeit currency. The Investigation exposes fake currency racket which is far and wide. Look at the cash in your wallet, you never know, it could be fake currency! Made in Pakistan, and routed via Bangladesh. Despite demonetisation, whose one of the major goals was to eliminate fake currency from the system, circulation of counterfeit currency continues to be a headache for the government.

“It’s connected to Pakistan. It’s routed through Bangladesh. The masterminds there [In Pakistan] are running it [the Indian fake-currency racket]. They have set up a mint in Bangladesh.” This is what Bashir Ahmed Bhatt, a resident of Jammu and Kashmir,  who admitted that he works for the ISI in India, told me about the fake currency route on hidden camera during 2019 India’s Lok Sabha elections. During the story, which is now in public domain, Bashir made several confessions. When asked whether he has supplied fake notes in the 2019 general elections, Bashir said “Yes, the same fake money is then distributed among the poor voters for liquor. Some get Rs, 1,000, some Rs 2,000, some Rs 3,000.” Party agents, he continued, pick up the consignment from West Bengal. When asked about the rate. Bashir replied, “It’s 50-50. You have to give Rs 50,000 for Rs 1 lakh counterfeits”.

The above is the story of 2019 general elections. Bashir disappeared after the story was aired. Till date we have no clue about his whereabouts. But there are several Bashirs still existing in Indian system. Now, in 2022, three years after the last Indian general elections of 2019, Tehelka has caught hold of such characters in the Hindi heartland who deals in fake currency notes. These characters by their own admission have supplied fake currency notes not only in various Indian elections but to the general public to carry out their day to day life.

We first met Rohit Sharma, a man who deals in fake currency since long. Immediately after the meeting us, Rohit Sharma told us his fake currency rate. According to him, we have to give him Rs 1 lakh for Rs 3 lakh counterfeits.

Rohit…  “Ek ka teen milta hai”.

Reporter…. “Main apko ek lakh dunga…ek ka teen matlab?.

Rohit…. “Teen lakh rupay dunga main apko”.

Reporter…. “Main ek lakh dunga….Aap mujhey naqli note ke teen lakh dogey?”

Rohit…. “Haan”.

[ Rohit Sharma told us the rate for fake currency notes. According to the rate, we have to give him Rs 1 lakh currency notes for buying Rs 3 lakh worth counterfeits]

Rohit Sharma confessed that during elections the demand for fake currency rises and he gets lots of fake currency orders.

Reporter…. “Abhi tumhara chunaav main to kaam badh gaya hoga. Kitna badh gaya?”

Rohit…. “Abhi chalu honey wala hain. Dheerey-dheerey badh raha hai. Badega thoda-thoda. Election main to kaam aata hai”

Reporter… “Zyada aata hai”.

Rohit…. “Hmm”.

Reporter…. “Kaun log aatey hain zyada chunav main?”

Rohit…. “Sansad, vidhayak ke kaam aatey hain hamarey paas. Vidhayak ke chunaav hain ab”.

Reporter…. “Vidhayak, Sansad khud aatey hai….Unkey log aatey hain?”

Rohit…. “Log aatey hain unke”.

[According to Rohit, demand for fake currency notes increases during the elections. He gets orders from MLAs and MPs. However, they don’t come to him themselves, but their associates come with the order.]

Rohit now revealed the maximum number of fake notes he has supplied in a day.

Reporter… “Aapne ek din main sabse zyada kitna maal supply kiya hai?”

Rohit… “10 lakh rupay ek din main”.

Reporter…. “Karein hain?”

Rohit…. “Haan”.

[Rohit revealed that in a day he has supplied up to 10 lakh rupees of fake notes]

When probed further, Rohit admitted that his supply of fake currency is Pan India.

Reporter…. “Desh main kahan-kahan supply kar sakte ho?”

Rohit…. “Hamara desh hain bahut bada, kahin bhi kar sakte hai”.

Reporter…. “Kahin bhi kar sakte ho?”

Rohit…. “Haan”.

Reporter…. “Kashmir-South”.

Rohit…. “ Haan, note to yehi hai koi Hongkong ka note to hai nahin”.

Reporter…. “Hongkong kya?”

Rohit… “Hongkong desh ka hai nahin hamarey paas”.

[Rohit says that he can supply his fake currency anywhere in India, Kashmir or south.]

Rohit Sharma now assured us that his fake currency will work Pan India, except for banks.

Reporter…. “Matlab koi pakad na paye naqli note de rahe aap hamein?”

Rohit…. “Hamara kaam pakka hai. Kaan pakad lena hamara. Market main kahin bhi ghoom lena. Poorey hindustan ghoom lena kahin bhi”.

Reporter…. “Kis barey main hindustan main ghoom aaye?”

Rohit…. “Isi barey main ke kahin par chala sakte ho..bank chodkar”.

Reporter… “Noton ke barey main”.

[ According to Rohit Sharma, his fake notes will work in the entire country, except in banks. He assured us that fake notes will not be detected anywhere in India.]

Rohit Sharma now revealed the denominations of fake notes he will supply to us.

Reporter…. “Ye maal jo lengey aapse ismein kaun-kaun se note hongey?”

Rohit…. “Yehi hongey 50 ka 100 ka”.

Reporter…. “500 ka nahin hoga?”

Rohit… “Nahin, bade maal par shaq hota hai. 500 par”.

Reporter…. “Bade maal par kya hota hai?”

Rohit… “Shaq 500, 2000 par shaq hota hai. Jaisey aadmi bank main jayega”.

Reporter… “500- waley main shaq zyada hota hai?”

Rohit…. “Haan”.

Reporter…. “100-50 mein kam hota hai?”

Rohit… “Haan”.

[ According to Rohit sharma, small denominations fake note like 100-50 attract lesser attention than big denominations notes of 500 and 2000. There is a chance that our big denomination fake notes might get detected.]

But on our demand, Rohit agreed to arrange 500 and 2000 fake notes also for us.

Reporter… “Hamarey liye kaun-kaun sa manga sakte ho?”

Rohit… “Kaun sa mangana hai bataye?”

Reporter… “500?”

Rohit…. “500 Mangwa dengey”.

Reporter… “2000?”

Rohit…. “2000 ka bhi aa jayega”.

Reporter…. “50 aur 100 wo to aa hi jayega?”

Rohit…. “Haan”.

[Although Rohit advised us to take only small denominations fake notes from him for safety, but on our demand he agreed to supply us fake notes of  bigger denominations too]

Rohit now confessed that he has earned so much name in fake currency that people from far flung areas come to meet him. But he emphasized that in our case, he had himself come to meet us at our place.

Rohit… “Mere paas log chalke aatey hain kahan-kahan se. Main aapke paas chalkar aaya hoon”.

Reporter…. “Log aatey hain?”

Rohit… “Haan, kahan-kahan se pata nahin?’

Reporter…. “Bahut-bahut dhanyawaad”.

Rohit…. “ Main apke paas chalkar aaya hoon”.

[ Rohit Sharma boasted that he had earned a big name in fake currency business. As a result people from all over the place come to meet him. But in our case, he himself had come to meet us]

Rohit admitted that in Rajasthan’s Sarpanch’s elections, he supplied fake notes.

Rohit…. “Rajasthan main sarpanch ka chunaav hua tha. Paisa bahut jaata hai”.

Reporter…. “Uska order aaya tha aapke paas?”

Rohit…. “Haan”.

[ Rohit admitted that he had got order to supply fake notes in Rajasthan’s Sarpanch’s elections]

Rohit Sharma now revealed the number of people involved in this fake currency business. And told us his commission too.

Reporter… “To aapka ismein kitna commission hota hai?”

Rohit… “Ismein mere akeley ka nahin hain. Kaafi logon ka commission hota hai. 10 kisi key, 20 kisi key, 50 kisi key. Aisey hota hai sabka commission hota hai”.

Reporter…. “10 hazaar, 20 hazaar ya lakh?”

Rohit…. “Haan jaisey raqam aayi aisi badiya kaam ho gaya…Jaisey 10 lakh aayi usmein se lakh-lakh uth jaati hain.”

Reporter…. “Achcha-achcha lakh apka ho gaya, lakh kisi aur ka hoga, matlab chain hai poori?”

Rohit…. “Haan”

Reporter…. “ Kitne log hein aapki chain mein?”

Rohit…. “Koi ginti nahin”.

Reporter…. “ Bahut sarey hain?”

Rohit…. “Ek doosrey se link hain. Aapse ho gayi. Mujhse ho gayi, aisey ho jaati hai”.

Reporter… “Aapko nahin lagta jitney zyada log hongey utna zyada khatra hai?”

Rohit…. “ Nahin aisa kuch nahin hain”.

[Rohit Sharma says that he has a long chain of people who supply fake currency. According to him, each member of the chain gets its commission according to the deal]

According to Rohit Sharma, he earns between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh per month from the fake currency business.

Reporter…. “To aap isi kaam se paisa kamatey ho?”

Rohit… “Haan”.

Reporter…. “Mahiney main kitna kama lete ho. Lakh 2 lakh?”

Rohit…. “Haan 2-3 lakh kama leta hoon”.

[Rohit sharma admitted that he is earning 2-3 lakh per month from the fake currency business]

As the meeting with Rohit Sharma progressed, he revealed that he required a day to deliver fake notes.

Reporter… “Jaisey aaj hum order karte hai 10 lakh ka, kab de dogey humein?”

Rohit…. “Aaj dete ho to kal aa jana”.

Reporter…. “Kal aa jaye?”

Rohit… “Haan”.

[ We asked Rohit how much time did he need to deliver fake currency notes worth 10 lakh? In reply to this, Rohit said that he needed a day’s time to deliver fake notes.]

After Rohit, we now met Veerpal, another man who deals in fake currency. Veerpal was a former employee of IT company working on their help desk. Like Rohit, Veerpal is also into fake currency business since years. Immediately after we met him, he told us his fake currency rate. He said he will deliver us counterfeit worth Rs 2 lakh for Rs 1 lakh.

Veerpal…. “Wahan se milega ek ka double”.

Reporter…. “Kahan se?”

Veerpal…. “ Jahan se bhi ayega wahan se ayega ek ka double”.

Reporter…. “Ek ka double maaney to?”

Veerpal…. “Ek lakh ke 2 lakh milengey”.

Reporter…. “Ek lakh ke hum asli note dengey aur 2 lakh ke aap naqli note dogey?”

Veerpal… “ Haan”.

[ Veerpal said that he will deliver Rs 2 lakh counterfeit notes in exchange for Rs 1 lakh real notes]

Veerpal advised us that since all his counterfeit notes will be of same serial number, so we should not give them in a bunch, at a time to anyone. He advised us to give them in parts. Otherwise we will be caught.

Veerpal…. “Jo main apko bata raha hoon wo hi clear rahega. Note naqli aapka chalega market mein ye nahin hain ab aap ek lakh kisi ko de… wo to pakda jayege. Aaj bhi ya kal bhi kyonki ek hi serial number ke hain. Agar usney dhyaan diya.. aur dhyaan kyon nahin dega..bade note hain. Har banda dhyaan dega”.

Reporter…. “Ismein to ye hai ki chotey-chotey note diye jaye. Ek saath gaddi de di”.

Veerpal…. “Gaddi main nahin de sakte. Gaddi main dikkat hai”.

Reporter…. “Gaddi main to pakda jayega na?”

Veerpal…. “Pakda jayega bhai. Aap kisi ko ek lakh rupya de rahe ho. Usmein 10 hazaar naqli mix karke de do. 50 hazaar de rahe ho usmein 10 hazaar mix kar do”.

Reporter….. “Poora nahin de sakte?”

Veerpal…. “Pakde jayogey aap. Ek bandey ko pakad liya khatm hain kahani”.

[ According to Veerpal, all his fake notes will be having same serial number. So he asked us not to give those notes to anyone in one go. He advised us to mix them with original notes before giving them to someone. Like in the payment of one lakh or fifty thousand, we should mix 10K counterfeit notes. That’s how we should use those fake notes. Otherwise we will be caught, he said.]

As the meeting progressed, Veerpal revealed that he has supplied fake notes in Delhi, Noida and Meerut.

Reporter…. “Aapki supply waisey kahan-kahan rahi hai, Veerpal ji naqli noton ki?”

Veerpal…. “Sector 37 Noida mein, Delhi ke kuch bandey they. Meerut kiya hai. Meerut mein kaafi kiya hai. Meerut ke aaspaas Deoband poora udhar kiya hai”.

[Veerpal revealed his areas like Noida, Delhi and Meerut where he has supplied fake notes.]

Veerpal said  he can supply Rs 6 lakh counterfeit notes in a week to us.

Reporter… “Ek baar mein aap kitna de sakte ho naqli note?”

Veerpal…. “Ek baar mey kya batao bhai.. zyada ke lafdey main nahin padna. 2-3 lakh rupay kar dunga. 3 lakh rupay”.

Reporter…. “Ek din main?”

Veerpal…. “Aap haftey main 2 time laga lijiye”.

Reporter…. “Matlab haftey main 6 lakh rupay, naqli note?”

Veerpal…. “Haftey main 6 lakh rupay naqli ke de sakta hoon. Kyonki main itna bada risk nahin lunga ki main paisey samet wahan pakda jaoo… aapka to ho gaya dushman zindigi bhar ka… Main wahan pada hua hoon jail main”.

[ Veerpal told us that he can supply us Rs 6 lakh counterfeit notes in a week without taking any risk. Beyond this amount it will be very risky for him. He said he might even end up in jail.]

Veerpal now confessed that man making fake currency for him is flooded with order in election time.

Reporter… “Achcha chunaav chal raha hai. Chunaav ki koi demaand aayi aapke paas?”

Veerpal…. “Merey paas nahin aayi”.

Reporter…. “Uske paas?”

Veerpal…. “Uske paas to chal raha hai.. wo kahan khaali baithta hain”.

Reporter…. “Chal raha hai kaam uska?”

Veerpal…. “Wo kar raha hai apna”.

[ According to Veerpal his man was busy taking order from people involved in the then assembly elections]

Veerpal now confessed as to how he and his friends used fake notes at night in the market to purchase things.

Reporter…. “Aapka kisi ka bhi nahin pakda gaya aapka, na sameer ka na teesrey ka?”

Veerpal…. “Pakda jaata kuch na kuch to hota. Hum shaam ko chalatey they. 9-10 baje free ho jaatey they apna. Kai-kai bori to sabzi ho jaati thi. Gutkey itney ho jaatey they”.

Reporter…. “Wo hi naqli note se?”

Veerpal…. “Haan”.

[ According to Veerpal, he used fake currency in his own market at night around 9-10. So that no shopkeeper or vendor should catch his fake note he is giving to them in payment. With those fake notes Veerpal and his friends bought Gutkha and vegetables in bulk]

Tehelka’s investigation on counterfeit notes proves what the Reserve Bank of India’s latest annual report says. According to the report published at various media platforms, counterfeit notes of all denominations increased in the financial year 2021-22. The RBI detected 101.9 percent more fake notes of Rs 500 denomination and 54.16 per cent more fake notes of Rs 2,000 denomination as compared to the previous year.

This RBI report has provided opposition parties fresh ammunition to mount attack on the BJP-led central government’s demonetisation move back in 2016.

The increased counterfeiting gets sustained support from Pakistan, where most of the fakes originate, according to our security agencies. The neighbouring country’s alleged objective is to destabilise the Indian economy. After being printed in facilities across the border, the consignments are smuggled into India through a well-established distribution network in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates. Last year, the China route was used to send a fake currency consignment into India.

Organised crime syndicates and terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Indian Mujahideen [IM] are also part of this well-oiled machine, along with the drug traffickers and arms smugglers. In fact, the interrogation of arrested terrorist operatives including Yasin Bhatkal of the IM, has revealed that terrorist groups have explored the possibility of utilising proceeds from the fake currency business to finance their other subversive activities like arms and explosive purchases, recruitment and infiltration of cadres.

It is a well known fact that substantial sums of money are used in elections, with cash being used on a much larger scale than ever before. And unless immediate steps are taken, we may find that huge amounts of fake money will be in circulation that will create chaotic economic conditions, adding to inflation.

Whether anyone is willing to admit it or not, the fact remains that Pakistan, through its ISI is bent upon bringing about economic upheaval in India with devastating effect. Political talks may continue but India needs to be realistic and practical in its approach on such matters as economic stability in the country.