Bhagalpur, the otherwise sleepy town by the Ganga, has turned out to be a haven for fake note couriers in recent times.
The arrest and subsequent interrogation of Rajesh Mandal has revealed that the network has spread across eastern Bihar with Bhagalpur at its centre. On Sunday, Rajesh was arrested by STF, Patna, and a team of Bhagalpur police with fake Indian currency notes with a face value of Rs 1.45 lakh.
During interrogation, Rajesh told the police that such fake notes were being pumped into the financial system by forces in Nepal and Bangladesh through porous bordering areas. Hundreds of villagers near Jogbani on Nepal border act as couriers as they get a good amount in cash for ferrying fake notes across the fence.
Almost similar is the case of Kaliachak in Bengal’s Malda district, said a police officer. Village women, prodded by middlemen, carry fake notes with them while visiting haat (village market) in bordering areas. In a swift process, hoodwinking BSF guards and intelligence officers, the fake notes change several hands before they reach Sahebganj on way to Bhagalpur.
Bhagalpur senior superintendent of police K.S. Anupam said raids were conducted at several places after Rajesh’s arrest. According to sources, Gopal Jha is the mastermind of the racket but he managed to escape when the police knocked on his door at Kahalgaon’s Sivnarayanpur on Monday. Rajesh also said Dinesh Mandal of Babupur in Sabour police station area and Akilesh Mandal of Parbatta’s Gonarchak in Khagaria district acted as couriers in the recent past.
On August 20, a joint team of STF, Patna, and Bhagalpur police recovered fake Indian currency notes with a face value of Rs 2.63 lakh, a pistol and 34 rounds of SLR cartridges from the house of fruit merchant Rajesh Kumar Jaiswal at Tilkamanjhi in Bhagalpur. Although Jaiswal managed to escape from the net, Rajesh said he had a “business relation” with him.
Besides the Dhulian-Pakur route, the easiest way seemed to be the Jogbani-Forbesganj-Naugachia (state highway 77) road, said an intelligence officer. “On December 23 and 29, 2011, fake Indian currency notes with a face value of Rs 1.25 crore and Rs 50 lakh were found in Kathmandu and from Md Noor at Kursakanta of Forbersganj, respectively. The consignments were to be circulated in eastern Bihar areas,” he said.
On June 23, ICICI Bank at Patalbabu Road recovered fake notes with a face value of Rs 12,000 in a bundle of Rs 49,000 after one Md Istakhar of Champanagar had come to deposit the amount.
SSP Anupam said they were flooded with complaints about circulation of fake notes in and around Bhagalpur.