Smuggling of fake Indian currency notes has been increasing in Nepal since the ban on denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 was lifted, according to police.
The ban, which had been in effect for 10 years, was lifted in 2013 at the request of the Indian government. This allowed Indian visitors to Nepal to use Indian bank notes of Rs 500 and 1,000 denominations.
Deputy Inspector General Bam Bahadur Bhandari, who is chief of Special Bureau at Nepal Police, said, “After the ban was removed, the circulation of fake Indian currency in Nepal rose sharply.”
The fake currency smugglers mainly targeted businessmen of Indian origin, Nepali tourists, and Nepali students going to India, he added.
Exposing two separate rackets involved in smuggling fake Indian currency in Kathmandu Tuesday, DIG Bhandari said that unlike in the past, the smugglers had taken to selling the currency in small amounts through random groups and individuals.
Additional Inspector General of Nepal Police Pratap Singh Thapa, chief of Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Office Ranipokhari, said that police have been intensifying special operations against fake currency smuggling to deal with the new phenomenon.
“Pakistan has always been the main source of fake Indian currency and earlier the smugglers used Nepal only as a transit to the Indian market,” AIG Thapa said. But lifting the ban has turned Nepal into a potential market also, he added.
Police were able to bust the fake Indian currency racket after a tip-off from a Kathmandu-based vegetable seller of Indian origin.
The Indian had exchanged Nepali currency for Indian currency worth Rs 32,500 at Maharajgunj. When the money turned out to be fake, he reported to the police.
Police than asked the vegetable seller to get in touch with the racket and seek Indian currency worth Rs 300,000.
With help from the vegetable seller, police on May 8 arrested Mira Jirel of Jiri-7, Dolakha district and Suman Malla of Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu.
On the basis of information provided by these two, five more individuals, including major agent in Nepal, Baijanath Gupta, were arrested on different dates inside and outside the country.
Gupta, who used aliases such as Arun, Joseph, Yusuf Khan, Raju and Bijay, hails from Bihar, India. He had been living in Siraha district with his family.
According to police investigations, Gupta used to purchase fake currency notes from a Pakistani agent via hundi. He was helped by Sanad Pradhan of Juhang-5, Gulmi district.
Gupta would then hire distributors to spread the fake currency in the Nepali market on a commission basis. Among his major distributors were Bijaya Raj Sharma of Butwal-3, Rupandehi, and Tarini Prasad Thakur of Malhanma-9, Saptari, according to the police.
Gupta, who has served more than 10 years in jail in a narcotics-related case, was released about five years ago.
Sharma had deputed Amrit Man Shrestha of Silgadhi, Doti and Thakur deployed Malla and Jirel to feed the fake currency into the market. Small amounts of fake currency were recovered from their possession during police raids.
Fine quality fake USD
Police said that fake US dollar bills that were seized from a Pakistani woman Saturday were of a fine quality and hard to differentiate from the real thing.
USD 19,500 was recovered from the false bottom of a suitcase carried by Pakistani citizen Shama Naz soon after she landed at TIA via Doha.
The 27-year-old, originally from Karachi, was holding passport number LW9895741 and is found to have traveled to Nepal during 6-14 March and between March 8 and April 1 this year.
“The fake US dollars seized from her are of such fine quality as we had never seen before,” DIG Bhandari said.