UA(P)A- will it bring down counterfeiting

Pic: news-views.in

The Cabinet nod to expand the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act so as to give a broader dimension to the terrorist act is a shot in the arm for investigators who probe cases pertaining to economic security.

While giving the nod, it also sought an opinion from the state governments on how to make this act more powerful since the states have a very big role to play in this too. While some state governments had delayed the approval of the bill as they sought more consultation, many others are in favour of this proposal which will now be placed before the Parliament of India for a final clearance.

The most important aspect of this proposal is that the jail term for any person even associated with money laundering or counterfeiting would go up from the existing two years to five years under this act apart from the seven years that the Indian Penal Code already provides. More importantly any act of counterfeiting will directly fall under the definition of a terrorist act. It is also proposed to empower the courts dealing with such cases to attach property of those persons involved in such acts.

While terrorist organisations continue to fund themselves with the sale of counterfeit currency, the biggest advantage of this act would be that it would bring small timers and local gangsters too under the ambit of a terrorist. Whether or not there is an association with any terror group, a person indulging in such an act small or big would still be defined as a terrorist as his actions would be seen as a threat to the economic stability of the country.

The state governments which have been giving their feed back say that in most of the cases that they have found it is the local gangsters who are circulating fake currency. In most of the cases the source of the funds have not been tracked and very often the culprits get away with minor punishments.

Police sources say that this proposal which has been cleared by the cabinet will act as a deterrent as there would be the fear that any such activity would directly be classified as an act of terror. It is one thing to be called a criminal and a whole other thing to be named a terrorist, the police also point out.

The agencies have been having a tough time dealing with this menace. It was clear that they were unable to stem the flow of fake currency since it is present in large numbers. The manner in which the fake currency was being made and the authenticity was next to impossible to track. The only way that they were able to find out was that there was circulation of more notes than what was already printed by India. The RBI was only able to stem the flow by banning the series 2aq and 8ac. This meant that the entire series of notes in the 1000 denomination with the series numbers 2aq and 8ac. It was a desperate attempt on part of the Indian agencies to stem the flow since even the genuine notes in this series were ordered to be kept out of circulation since the major inflow into the Indian market were with these serial numbers.

However police officials say that it is not very difficult for terror groups to pump in notes with the new series and they will do it for sure. However at the root level there will be a fear to circulate these notes since if any one is caught doing so he is termed as a terrorist and local gangsters would not want that tag and hence their activities would come down a great deal.

The Cabinet nod will strengthen the existing laws a great deal. Under the Indian Penal Code, Section 476 states that- Whoever counterfeits upon, or in the substance of, any material, any device or mark used for the purpose of authenticating, intending that such device or mark shall be used for the purpose of giving the appearance of authenticity to any document then forged or thereafter to be forged on such material, or who, with such intent, has in his possession any material upon or in the substance of which any such device or mark has been counterfeited, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine. Moreover it is also a non cognisable/non bailable offence triable by the Magistrate of the first class.

Investigating agencies are also hopeful that while this act gives them more teeth while investigating, it would also help them get more convictions. In the cities of Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Lucknow, there are an average of 10 cases of counterfeiting registered every day. The conviction rate of all these cities put together is just about 7 per cent. While officials have managed to detect the crime they are finding it hard to obtain a conviction. More often than not the accused take the defence it landed in their possession and very often it becomes hard to prove the case otherwise.

The pitfalls- While the new act gives the police a blanket power to term a person with counterfeit currency as a terrorist, they would want to be careful while dealing with a genuine victim. These notes often come out of the banks and an ATM and more often than not people do not even realise. The sad part is that if a person does realise and report it to the bank the only option before him is destruction of that note. Police officials however say that they will be careful and can tell between a genuine victim and an accused. An accused is often found in possession of many notes. However if people find fake notes on them and come and report the matter to us, we will be sympathetic towards their cause. Moreover an accused would never report such a matter to the police. However it is mandatory that any person who is found in possession of a fake note having the series banned by the RBI must report the matter to the bank or to the police station. The police say that it would go a long way if people come forward and alert them when they find such a note. This way the bank from where they got the note could be alerted and they would be more careful. More often than not, it is found that people with fake notes never report the matter and try to pass it off at a crowded shop of a petrol bunk. The police feel that the banks too must do more and if a person is found in possession of one or two notes, he should be compensated as none would like to lose their hard earned money.

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What India needs to worry about the D

The Home Minister of India, P Chidambaram said a couple of days back that he is sure that Dawood Ibrahim is inPakistan. While this any child on the street could tell the more important aspect about Dawood is not the  that he is inPakistan, but the fact that he controls an empire directly linked between India-Pakistan and Dubai.

An dossier of the Intelligence Bureau in our possession would go on to suggest that he not only lives in comfort at Pakistan, but continues to run a very lucrative business. Dawood according to the dossier no doubt has a very large crime syndicate under his control, but the worrying fact is that he has also been running a couple of legitimate businesses which the Pakistan government is well aware of. This can happen only with the complete support of the establishment, Intelligence Bureau officials point out.

The business of Dawood has been split up into two-the legitimate and illegitimate one. While the illegitimate businesses comprise counterfieting, piracy, drugs, smuggling or arms etc, the legitimate businesses comprise garment trading, stock exchange dealings, cement and oil interests.

There have been a lot of allegations and counter allegations between India andPakistan regarding Dawood Ibrahim. The dossier on him states clearly that he earns at least 20000 crore per year through his dealings and at least 40 per cent of the same goes into funding terror related activities. This itself goes on to show that he is a golden goose for Pakistanand at any cost they are not prepared to lose him.

Dawood’s address from where he operates is known as the  White House, Near Saudi Mosque, Clifton, House No 37, 30th Street, Defence Housing Authority, Karachi, Pakistan. All his operations are out of this address and what makes India’s case worse is that this area is under the control of the Pakistan army. He also owns the following the properties in Karachi- A 239, Block 13C, Gulshan-e-Iqbal 25, Rufi Cottage,  Block 13D Gulshan-e-Iqbal Ahmadi Apartments,  Gulshan-e-Iqbal Meymar Arcade, Fourth Floor,  Gulshan-e-Iqbal C-201 Karachi Development Scheme,  Extension 1A Moin Palace, Second Floor, Ghazi Dargah, Clifton Khayaban-e-Samsher.
Dawood’s control over the Indian market is a big cause for concern. He is the one primarily responsible for piracy inIndia and he runs this racket through a business establishment called as Sadaf Trading which itself is worth over a billion dollars. He has interest in Oil in the Gulf nations, cement industries inPakistan, garments and silk inChina, stock exchange inIndia. He has also started exporting a brand of tobacco toRussia under the brand name Fire which is also doing well according to IB reports.

The money that he has been earning through the above mentioned businesses are mostly parked in India with hawala dealers and a large part of the sum is also kept in benami names in various banks in both India and Pakistan. However the money that is earned through counterfieting, narcotics and arms trade is kept in circulation and large chunk is passed on for terror related operations. The ISI insists that this money is also kept in circulation in the other parts of the world and each time he has tried to send money out ofPakistanit has always been through the India Nepal border. According to security experts, it is one thing to seek the extradition of Dawood Ibrahim, but what is more important is to keep his dealings under check inIndia. Dawood’s racket could be broken a great deal ifIndiaacts more seriously on his deals in the country, security experts believe. What makes him strong is the kind of money he is able to generate out of the Indian markets, they also point out.

ForIndiato extradite Dawood is going to be herculean task. Even if there is pressure from theUnited States of America,Pakistanwould go out of its way to guard the man. In the year 2006, he was shifted to Wazirstan by thePakistanarmy to avoid any assault by theUStroops who have branded him as an international terrorist. Dawood also has a safe hide out in Jeddah and has very often moved in there at the time the heat is high on him. He continues to use two passport H 123259 and G-869537 for all his travel and these were issued to him atRawalpinditen years back.

The IB says that his businesses continue to grow with each passing day. He is becoming a headache not only for countries such asIndiaandNepal, but his drug syndicate spread acrossThailand,Kenya,MalaysiaandSingapore. The worry however is that these countries not only become transit points for the drug or counterfeit trade. There is a catch and that is he also continues to create newer routes for terror operations. With the Lashkar-e-Tayiba making every effort to go international they find their biggest help in Dawood and his network. The Lashkar has been setting up bases inSingaporeandThailand. Most of the times it has been seen that most government have been linieant while controlling the drug trade and what they do not realise is that they end up creating a route for terror operations as well. The same has happened inIndiaand today the D gang finds an easy route to smuggle arms and also fake currency.

According to the IB, Dawood enjoys a comfort level that even VIPs inPakistancould be envious of. Going by the interrogation report of Ahmed Khwaja, aHyderabadbased Lashkar operative who has visitedPakistanthe comfort levels of Dawood becomes clear. He goes on to say that he tried to see his house but was unable to due to the big fort like structure. He also said that he was told that Dawood enjoys a 10 layer security ring which many VIPs too do not have in Pakistan.