The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has busted a Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) racket in Mumbai with the arrest of a Congress party district committee general secretary and two others, including a builder, on Saturday. DRI officials recovered FICN worth Rs 8.8 lakh from the trio who co-ordinated as part of a smuggling network that sourced fake currency notes from FICN vendors active on the Indo-Bangladesh border.DRI officials claimed that Imran Alam Shaikh (pictured) , general secretary North Central District Congress Committee, was into the business of handling and distributing fake currency notes across Mumbai.
Interrogation of Imran, builder Mahesh Alimchandani, and Imran’s uncle Zahid Shaikh has revealed that high quality FICN, printed and smuggled out of Dhaka, was sourced from one Shivajirao Khedekar, a resident of Pune.
Acting on actionable intelligence, DRI sleuths picked up Imran and Zahid from near MacDonald’s outlet in BKC.
What surprised the DRI is how the trio functioned as a tight goal-directed entity, mingling seamlessly with a handful of agents and couriers on the ground, and shepherding the distribution of FICN across Mumbai for past several years now. The only outsider to exert administrative control over the triumvirate is FICN supplier Khedekar.
According to DRI officials while Khedekar was the primary supplier of FICN sourced from international operatives active on the Indo-Bangladesh border mostly in West Bengal, Imran was a key distributor handling the flow of FICN across the Mumbai market. DRI officials said he also ran his travel business, Aarzan Tours and Travels, in Bandra. North Central Mumbai District Congress Committee president Zia ur Rehman Wahidi told Mumbai Mirror, “I am not exactly aware of any person by that name. However, the party district committee has several cells one of which he may belong to.”
Khar builder Alimchandani worked on 5 per cent commission by being a go-between Khedekar and Imran. Alimchandani befriended Imran because the former wanted to get rid of land dispute he got embroiled in. Imran had promised to help Alimchandani and bail him out of the land rights issues.
Zahid, uncle of Imran, told DRI officials that he had on at least two occasions distributed FICN, with a print value of Rs 20 lakh, inside Mumbai. Zahid also told DRI officials that Imran visited his residence on October 6 and handed him over a polythene bag containing 12 fake currency notes of Rs 500 denominations each.
Imran then instructed Zahid to meet a person at the BKC and in turn hand him over the fake notes. DRI officials said that Imran told Zahid that the FICN was obtained from Khedekar.
Zahid also told DRI officials that he had secured FICN on two occasions, a total of Rs 10 lakh in Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 denominations, from “known sources” and handed back those consignments to Imran in turn. Imran eventually got the notes distributed successfully across Mumbai. The seized currency notes said DRI officials sported the same security grade currency papers manufactured by global European firms.
Several security agencies are, meanwhile, working to stem the fresh tide of FICN smuggling into India in the post-demonetisation phase with the imprint of Pakistani state facilities behind the FICN racket forming the nub of a sprawling probe.
DRI officials said the “collusion of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the currency fakers are all too evident” in the recent spurt in FICN seizures including yesterday’s.
Saturday’s seizure is the third in row by the DRI in the span of just a month. The two previous seizures happened On August 30 and September 9.
DRI officials said they are probing the Khedekar’s links with international FICN smugglers and with those “people familiar with the business of faking international currencies.”
Credit: Mumbai Mirrror