Security agencies in Kashmir have claimed to have unearthed a large-scale fake currency and hawala racket, one that involves a territorial army spy and some Hurriyat leaders as well.
According to police officials, several people have been apprehended in Kashmir over links with different incidents involving fake currency rackets and hawala transactions. Among the cases registered is the one where a territorial army spy and a police official were apprehended for receiving fake currency from across the border. The case was registered at Srinagar's Ramunshi Bagh police station, and cops are investigating if any army personnel were involved in transporting the fake currency from Pakistan.
A top police official said that large batches of fake currency come from Pakistan, and sizeable chunks of money also reach militants involved in insurgency in the Valley. Between 2012 and 2014, police and bank authorities have recovered Rs 87.1 lakh in fake currency, while many cases are under investigation.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP), Pulwama, Rayees Mohammad Bhat, seconded the argument that militants get fake currency notes from Pakistan. "Militants need money not only for their over ground workers (OGWs) but also for making local purchases like food and mobile phones. They hide in the forest areas, and use fake currency notes for local purchases," he said. "This apart, there are also local militants using a different modus operandi: They print their own fake currency notes and use them between a big wad of notes to ensure it's not detected. We have registered a lot of such cases."
The National Investigating Agency (NIA) has also registered cases involving hawala transactions, which came to light after the arrest of a few Hurriyat activists. The NIA is investigating the role of the Naeem Geelani, the elder son of Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, in a case involving the "flow of funds from various overseas bank accounts", meant to be used in separatist activities here.
The NIA investigation has revealed that in some of the cases, even Pakistan's ISI officials were involved. The officials supply hawala money through their contacts to the Hurriyat activists in India. To evade detection and arrest, the accused even speak in code language. The ISI has roped in militants, who along with their contacts in Srinagar, had managed to get currency from across the border. In one of the cases, a Delhi-based businessman was found guilty of helping militants get their money from across the border.
Apart from this, under-invoicing is another trick used by militants to carry out hawala transactions, say police officials. "Trucks that carry trade items across the Line of Control (LoC) aren't checked as thoroughly, which results in a high possibility of there being fake currency being transported in these trucks," said a senior police official.
Superintendent of police, Sopore, Harmeet Singh, said that some traders even provide money to Hurriyat leaders here "on the instructions of their contacts in Pakistan".
A senior official said that traders from Srinagar inflate the value of the goods they are plying, and also transport higher volume of goods. "The money which is earned through transport of goods in larger volume is given to the Hurriyat leaders here," he said.
However, Farooq Ahmed Shah, custodian, cross-LoC trade, said that the government has put in place adequate security arrangements. "It will ensure that only genuine people are involved in the trade. We are conducting the trade in barter system. The police is better equipped to investigate any cases of doubtful transactions," he said, adding that over 350 traders from Jammu and Kashmir are are involved in the cross-LoC trade. "The value of goods is reflected properly by the traders. We have also X-ray detection facilities for checking of the goods," Shah said.