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India steps up vigil as Pakistan may pump in fake currency across border ahead of polls

Circulation of fake currency notes in India may rise with deepening crises in Pakistan (Image courtesy: IANS)

Amid the ongoing political and economic crises in Pakistan, there are fears that there could be a further spike in Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) flowing in from across the border, especially with the approaching 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Pakistan pumps more than 80 per cent of FICN, several reports have suggested. The fluid situation in Afghanistan has enhanced the challenges. Indian security agencies, sources said, have started taking the necessary steps especially at the border areas. “However, the risks are high and constant vigilance will be key,” said a security agency official. Besides India, Bangladesh too will hold its general elections later this year.

Earlier reports have indicated that smuggling of fake currency notes typically increases during election time.

According to data published late last year, fake currency worth the face value of Rs 137 crore in the last three years have been recovered. An increase in circulation of fake currency notes can destabilise the nation’s economic framework and even pushes up inflation. It is also a threat to national security as it is linked with terror financing.

“The recent developments in India’s neighbourhood have led to resurgence of terror and unlawful activities and rise in need of terror financing and FICN flow. These developments include the weak security apparatus in Afghanistan and surge in terror/militant group’s activities in Pakistan,” Navita Srikant, geopolitical and security analyst told India Narrative. “While FCORD (FICN Coordination Group) pays special attention to porous borders, the rise in militancy and secessionist movements against India indicates that there is greater need to collaborate at intergovernmental level in South Asia and ASEAN countries (used as conduits by Pakistan),” Srikant added.

As per Official estimates fake currency notes worth over $2.2 billion have been in circulation in India by 2010– pumped in primarily by Pakistan through several neighbouring countries including Nepal and Bangladesh. The main entry points of these fake notes are now the northeastern states and West Bengal while Punjab may also become a cause for concern, sources said.

India and Bangladesh have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to prevent and counter smuggling and circulation of fake currency notes. That apart, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also taken various measures including augmenting security features on bank notes so as to render counterfeiting difficult and expensive and has been running awareness programmes for public and cash handlers.

The Terror Funding and Fake Currency (TFFC) Cell has been constituted under the aegis of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for investigation of terror funding and fake currency cases.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) noted that the menace of counterfeit currency is a global phenomenon. It highlighted that currency counterfeiters continue to improvise and take advantage of new technologies to keep pace with regular periodical changes in currency design and security features.

Also read: NIA cracks down on terrorist-smuggler nexus with countrywide raids, foreign connections also unearthed