Fake Indian and foreign currency notes — including play currency notes marked ‘Children’s Bank of India’ — of a total face value of Rs 87 crore were seized in a joint operation of the Military Intelligence and Pune City police on Wednesday. A serving Army jawan along with five civilians has been arrested in connection with the case.
The stash was found in a bungalow in Viman Nagar in an action conducted on Wednesday afternoon that started with a decoy team being sent to the racketeers. Primary probe has revealed that the suspects were part of a racket of exchanging fake notes for genuine ones during currency exchange transactions. Investigators believe that the modus operandi of the suspects was to accept genuine notes and, in return, give stacks of notes, some of them genuine, some good-quality fake currency and some play notes.
The joint operation was conducted by the Southern Command Liaison Unit (SCLU) of Military Intelligence (MI) and teams from the Crime Branch of Pune City Police.
After concrete leads from MI about a large consignment of fake currency, Pune Joint Commissioner of Police Ravindra Shisve directed DCP of Crime Branch, Bachchan Singh, to plan an operation. A decoy group, including both MI and police officials, contacted the racketeers to set up an exchange of notes.
The decoy deal led to a raid that unearthed huge stacks of fake currency of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500, play notes marked ‘Children’s Bank of India’, some fake notes of demonetised Rs 1,000 denomination, fake US dollars, genuine Indian notes and US dollars, in total worth nearly Rs 3 lakh, along with a fake air gun, some forged documents, spy cameras, electronic devices and cell phones.
The face value of fake currency in Indian rupees was around Rs 87 crore, as per the preliminary estimate.
Police initially detained six persons, who were later put under arrest and a search was launched for their possible contacts. The suspects have been identified as Shaikh Alim Gulab Khan, an Army soldier of Lance Naik rank attached to an Army unit in Pune, and his accomplices Sunil Sarda, Ritesh Ratnaakar, Tuhaul Ahmed Ishaq Khan, Abdul Gani Khan and Abdul Rehman.
“The Army jawan, who has been posted in Pune for the last eight years, seems to be the key suspect of the racket as per our information till now. One more person is from Pune and four others are from Mumbai. We are probing if they had more accomplices and are also probing some leads on the fake currency and how it was procured.” said a police officer.
Another officer said, “These play notes marked ‘Children’s Bank of India’ have surfaced in the past in similar fake currency rackets. So, the connection of these people with other racketeers cannot be denied. There is a finesse in forgery for a portion of the fake notes, thus pointing to international links… we are probing how these people used to catch targets, who gave them local support, technical knowhow, printing resources and a distribution network.”
An officer, who was part of the investigation, said many of the play notes had ‘Children’s Bank of India’ in place of ‘Reserve Bank of India’ , and ‘Bharatiya Manoranjan Bank’ in place of ‘Bharatiya Reserve Bank’ in Devanagari script, instead of a genuine note. Similar fake notes have been seized in the past in Mumbai and other parts of the country.
An official statement from the Army said, “The Southern Command Intelligence wing, along with Crime Branch Pune, carried out a successful joint operation in Viman Nagar and busted a fake currency racket. Six people, including five civilians and a soldier, were apprehended with fake Indian and foreign currency…”.
Officials said that considering the amount of fake notes seized, though a large chunk of them are play notes, the probe would need involvement of various agencies.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines