KOCHI: Before 2013, there were many cases in which fake bills printed in Pakistan were brought to state from the Gulf. NIA feels organised groups are bringing gold to India after smuggling of fake notes from UAE almost ceased.It recently told the court that gold smuggling fetched higher profit than smuggling of FICNs

The probe by multiple agencies into the smuggling of gold through the diplomatic channel in Thiruvananthapuram is now pointing towards the involvement of anti-national rackets that once used to smuggle fake Indian currency notes (FICN) to Kerala from Gulf countries.The NIA suspects organised groups have been illegally bringing gold from the UAE to India after smuggling of FICNs from the Gulf country almost came to a standstill in 2014.

Kerala was once a key destination for groups smuggling FICNs that used to be printed in Pakistan with the support of the nation’s spy agency ISI. Before 2013, there were several major cases in which FICNs printed in Pakistan were smuggled from Gulf countries. However, since 2015, gold has been used to pump in unaccounted money to India to support terrorist activities.“When the smuggling of FICNs declined, there was an increase in gold smuggling. Now, most of the FICNs that are seized in Kerala are brought from the Bangladesh border. Till 2013, FICNs were smuggled in to torpedo India’s financial stability. Now, gold is being used for the purpose,” said a source.

The NIA had earlier arraigned several people for smuggling FICNs into Kerala. They include Imtiaz Ibrabim of Karachi and Pakistan national Iqbal Bhai in the 2012 Kondotty FICN case, Abdul Rahman alias Rahman Bhai of Pakistan in the 2011 Thaliparamba FICN case and Aftab Bhatki, a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim, in the 2013 Nedumbassery FICN case. “It is surprising that smuggling of FICNs with the ISI’s support declined when gold smuggling hit top gear in 2013. Since 2013, just three or four cases of FICN smuggling have been reported in Kerala while gold smuggling activities have been increasing by 70 per cent per year. We are checking whether people once involved in FICN smuggling are into illegal gold trade now,” said an Intelligence Bureau officer.

While seeking the custody of accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair recently, the NIA had told the court that gold smuggling fetched higher profit than smuggling of FICNs.The Customs probing the case suspects that an organised gang was supporting Kaipamangalam native Faisal Fareed, one of the accused, to illegally send gold from Dubai to Kerala. A Customs official said Faisal could not afford to procure gold worth over `14 crore alone. “There might be hawala agents who played active role in receiving funds illegally. We don’t think Faisal alone could handle the supply of gold and that he must have been supported by more people in Dubai,” said a Customs official. 

The Customs is all set to approach the NIA Court in Kochi to record the arrest of Swapna and Sandeep. Their NIA custody ends on Tuesday and they will be produced in the court before 11am on the day. First accused Sarith P S will be in NIA’s custody till Thursday.

Dubious distinction

Kerala was once a key destination for groups smuggling fake Indian currency notes (FICN) that used to  be printed in Pakistan with the support of its spy agency ISI. Before 2013, there were several cases in which FICNs printed in Pakistan were smuggled from Gulf countries. However, since 2015, gold has been used to pump in unaccounted money to India to support terrorist activities.

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