|Counterfeit currency a flourishing trade in Lakhimpur|
NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Sept 19 - The arrest of three persons by Lakhimpur police on charges of counterfeiting currency has once again led to concern over the rise of the fake notes and gold trade in Bangalmora area of the district. The arrest of Soriful Islam (30) of No.1 Ahmedpur, Sadikul Ali (21) and Sajida Begum (37) of Meneha in Lakhimpur district led to the recovery of a note printing machine with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) logo sticker. This tells the same story of counterfeiting activities going on in the area for the past several years.
(Left) The machine seized in 2019, and (right) the one recovered recently.
On April 2, 2015, one Ainuddin was arrested in Bangalmora on charges of dealing in fake gold and counterfeit currency. Ainuddin was allegedly duping people across the state and neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. On February 5, 2018, seven persons were arrested with fake currency in Bangalmara. Meeraz Basumatary (58), Naren Basumatary (57) and Sila Basumatary (32) of Chirang district, who had come to buy counterfeit currency from Rafiq Ahmed of No. 3 Islampur village of Bangalmara were arrested. Police seized counterfeit notes of Rs 2,000 denomination and paper used to print such notes. Police also arrested Jeherul Islam (35) and Saiful Islam (29) of the same village for their involvement. A week earlier, Mizanur Rahman alias Mizu was nabbed at Bangalmara with a note printing machine.
On September 21, 2018, police arrested Akbar Ali and Abdul Hannan of No.1 Sonapur village of Bangalmara for duping customers by promising double the amount in counterfeit notes. The three duped customers – Kamal Seikh, Mizanur Sheikh and Aizul Seikh from West Bengal – were also arrested.
On October 20, 2019, police arrested Mijarul Islam (26) of No.1 Ahmedpur, Jeherul Hoque Talukdar alias Bhaiti from No.1 Daulatpur in Bangalmora, Abdul Shaheed (32) from Paschim Singibari in Rupohi, Nagaon, Yusuf Ali of No.1 Borsola and Kurban Ali (27) of No.2 Islampur with counterfeit currency. Police also seized Rs 12 lakh in cash from their possession.
A cat-and-mouse game of police and counterfeiters is going on in Lakhimpur district for the past many years. The counterfeiting and fake gold trade of Bangalmora area is going on within a small area of only a few square kilometres – consisting of villages like Pandhowa, Borsola, Mohghuli, Tinithegiya, Sonapur, Jubanagar, etc., under Bangalmora, Silanibari and Dolahat Police Outposts and Laluk and Bihpuria Police Stations.
Strangely, the inability of police to completely uproot the illicit trade has become a subject of public discussion and dissent, which has also earned a bad name for the district.
Under the alleged protection of police, the counterfeiters invite customers to sell fake notes and fake gold. The customers are shown the ‘RBI machines’ – which are actually very ordinary handmade boxes, where some original notes are kept inside. The demonstration convinces the customers and they pay huge amounts of cash to double them with fakes. The sellers then take the cash and vanish from the spot, leaving the buyers stranded in an unknown locality. The duped customers cannot even go to police since they know it is an illegal activity, or on some occasions, even if they do so, they are allegedly framed by police. This formula has been going on repeatedly in Bangalmora area for a long time.
There has been allegations of corruption involving police and political leaders, for which the illicit trade is still flourishing. Almost 2,000 unemployed youths of the region are believed to be involved in this criminal activity. Though police make arrests at regular intervals, the sections of the IPC they invoke in the cases are allegedly very weak, due to which the criminals get bail easily and resume their illicit activities.