RBI’s help sought to check counterfeit currency smuggling

April 8th, 2008 - 11:21 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Unable to check the smuggling of counterfeit currency through the porous borders of Nepal and Bhutan, India’s paramilitary Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) has sought the help of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). “The force is nascent and a majority of our personnel do not have the required expertise to differentiate between real and fake currency,” the SSB additional director general (ADG) Vikram Srivastva told IANS.

SSB also wants the help of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) to check the racket in narcotics, particularly at the border with Nepal.

“When it comes to drugs, our men again face challenges in identifying the contraband substances, of which their knowledge is extremely limited,” Srivastva added.

In recent years, Nepal has emerged as a favourite route for arms dealers, drug lords and syndicates pumping fake currency and contraband into the country.

“ISI’s (Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan) sole purpose is to create disturbance in India through such means. They have found the Nepal border to be the most secure channel to carry out their illegal activities since the Indian armed forces crack down on them on India’s western border with Pakistan,” a top police official said.

Mukesh Sahay, inspector general of the SSB, said the paramilitary force has written to the RBI and the CBEC to issue them samples of fake currency and drugs to impart training to their personnel.

“The RBI has only issued us one sample. Our requirement is much more as 5,000-6,000 personnel are undergoing training at five of our centres (two in Himachal Pradesh and one each in Uttarakhand, Delhi and Assam),” rued another top official.

“How do you expect us to train all our personnel using just one sample? But we are hopeful that more fake currency notes will be issued soon,” he added.

According to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) report released here, the porous borders between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal contribute significantly to the increased availability of illicit drugs in the South Asian region.

SSB last year managed to seize contraband goods worth Rs.86.2 million, narcotics worth Rs.110 million, fake currency worth Rs.195,000 and 2.715 kg of explosives in borders areas and also arrested 1,135 people.

The paramilitary force, set up in 1963 as Special Service Bureau after the India-China conflict, currently guards the 1,751-km stretch along the India-Nepal border and 699 km along the India-Bhutan border.

It has been deployed on the India-Nepal border since 2002 and on the India-Bhutan border since 2004.

Their problems are compounded by the fact that people do not need documents to travel between India, Nepal and Bhutan.

The force has long been demanding that the central government put up an identification system on the borders with Nepal and Bhutan to keep tabs on people entering India.

“It is easy for wrong elements to enter the country as the India-Nepal and India-Bhutan borders are open and porous and no documents are required to cross the border. The government had started a pilot project, but it’s lying in cold storage,” the official said.

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