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The ISI is pumping in fakes through the India- Nepal border

SEIZURES of fake Indian currency notes by the law enforcement agencies and by the Reserve Bank of India in banks and currency chests grew by over 100 per cent last year to cross a whopping Rs 30 crore. Nearly 75 per cent of these high-quality fake notes, which were printed in Pakistan, made its way to India from Nepal, according to an estimate by the Union home ministry and the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) is finally putting its act together to put serious pressure on Nepal to stop its territory being used as a transit point for bringing in fake Indian currency notes (FICN) into the country.

Sources said India is in the process of handing over evidence to Nepal asking for the arrest of Yousuf Ansari, a Dawood Ibrahim key aide who is also believed to be the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence's (ISI) kingpin in Kathmandu in pumping the fake Indian money through the porous Indo-Nepal border. Yousuf is the son of Nepal's former forest minister in the cabinet of King Gyanendra, Salim Mian Ansari. Sources said Yousuf is also a close confidante of ex-Nepal crown prince Paras, who, too, could be involved. "There is, however, no evidence against Paras yet with our security agencies," MHA sources said.

Union home minister P. Chidambaram has admitted that though fake Indian money is printed elsewhere (in Pakistan), it is routed to India from Nepal. "I had taken up the matter recently (on August 20) with Nepali Prime Minister Madhav Nepal. The issue will figure during the home secretary-level talks in Kathmandu on November 6-7," the home minster said. Sources said home secretary G.K.

Pillai will go to Kathmandu with a clear agenda. "India wants its officials to be allowed to train the Nepal Police and Kathmandu airport officials in detecting the FICN. India will also recommend that sophisticated machines to detect FICN be installed at the Kathmandu airport," an MHA source said. If Nepal agrees to such an arrangement, India hopes to make a serious dent in the FICN smuggling.

Information with the Indian security agencies and interrogation reports of major FICN conduits arrested lately show that fake money makes its way to Nepal in a major way from the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

" Both Pakistan International Airlines flights and cargo flights from Pakistan are used by the ISI to smuggle in large quantity of FICN to Nepal. Even bags used by diplomatic staff at the Pakistan embassy in Kathmandu as well as Pakistani embassies in West Asian countries are being misused for smuggling the FICN to Nepal, as the Indo- Pak border is difficult to breach," an official said.

Nepal has generally been averse to Indian interference in the affairs at the Tribhuvan airport in Kathmandu even after the IC- 814 aircraft hijacking when terrorists managed to smuggle in arms onto the plane. A long- pending proposal by India to allow National Security Guard ( NSG) commandos as sky marshals on Air India flights between Kathmandu and India has not been accepted by Nepal.

" But the FICN issue is now acquiring alarming proportions and Nepal will be asked to crack down on its smuggling at Kathmandu airport from Pakistan. The FICN inflow to Nepal needs to be checked along with the outflow to India," an MHA official stressed.

MHA sources say that Nepal is a crucial cog in the wheel of the Pakistani FICN racket. " The ISI has infiltrated systems of six companies in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Italy and France who supply currency paper -- which is fitted with the latest security features -- to India. Getting details of the Indian security template, Pakistan is importing almost twice the amount of currency paper from foreign companies than it actually needs for its domestic needs.

" The ISI has also managed to procure the high- security ink used for printing Indian notes.

India imports this ink from a firm in Switzerland; Pakistan has tapped the same agency. The currency paper fitted with Indian security features is printed at Pakistan Security Press in Lahore, Multan and Quetta with the high- security ink procured from Switzerland," the home ministry official added.

Nepal is a key transit point in flooding the Indian market with this made- in- Pakistan Indian counterfeit money. IB officials said the Pakistan High Commission in Islamabad plays a crucial role in channelling FICN from Pakistan to Nepal and thereon to India. In 2002, the Nepal government expelled Mohammad Masood, a clerk in the Pakistan High Commission, after he was found with fake Indian money worth Rs 45,000.

The arrest of Vikky Manihar, a Nepal resident, last month in UP's Bahraich district, has laid bare the huge network of agents across the border in Nepal.

" Vikky's father, Abdul Majid Siddiqui alias Majid Manihar, is a major ISI operative in Nepal. The arrest of both is the key to clamping down on the FICN smuggling to India. Nepal will be asked to do the needful during the home secretary- level talks in Kathmandu," the MHA official said.

Two men arrested in Bhopal last month, Ateeq Ahmed and Rajesh Gupta, also corroborated the fact that Kathmandu- based Yousuf is the man at the centre of FICN smuggling at the ISI's behest.

Besides putting pressure on Nepal, MHA has also asked the Seema Suraksha Bal ( SSB) posted on the Indo- Nepal border to strengthen its capability to check FICN smuggling. " An expansive network of agents, both in Nepal and India, has been formed to transfer the FICN from Nepal to India through the porous border. The Seema Suraksha Bal posted on the unfenced Indo- Nepal border is trying to check this," a source said.

The Raxaul- Birganj border crossing and the Kathmandu- Nepalgunj- Rupaidiha route are the two main focus areas for the SSB as major FICN seizures have been made here. " The SSB has been asked to closely check all trade passage at Raxaul ( in Bihar) as Birganj ( in Nepal) has become the hub for traffickers.

Bus operators and staff could be involved in transporting counterfeit money across the border.

India will also ask for joint security mechanisms by India and Nepal to function on the border," a senior MHA official said.

Nepal's official reaction to the Indian concerns has been guarded.

" After the media reported links between former crown prince Paras and those arrested in India in the fake money racket, the government is investigating into the matter," Nepal's home ministry spokesman Ratnaraj Pandey said.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 7, 2009
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