The arrest of three persons by Lakhimpur Police on Wednesday on the charges of printing fake currency notes has once again unearthed the continued illicit activities of fake banknotes and gold in the Bangalmora area of the district.

The arrested persons have been identified as Soriful Islam (30), Sadikul Ali (21) and Sajida Begum (37).

Their arrests and the recovery of a “note printing machine” with Reserve Bank of India logo tells the same old story of counterfeiting activities centring around greater Bangalmora area under several police stations and outposts in the last two decades.

On April 2, 2015, one Ainuddin was arrested by police in Bangalmora on the charges of dealing in fake gold and counterfeit currency notes.

Ainuddin was involved in the illicit trade through which he had been duping people across the state and neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur.

On February 5, 2018, seven persons were arrested with fake currencies in Bangalmora.

They were Meeraz Basumatary (58), Naren Basumatary (57) and Sila Basumatary (32) of Chirang district who came to buy counterfeit currencies from one Rafiq Ahmed of No. 3 Islampur village of Bangalmara were arrested.

Police recovered counterfeit banknotes of Rs 2,000 denomination and paper used to print such notes.

The police also arrested Jeherul Islam (35) and Saiful Islam (29) of the same village for their involvement in the crime.

A week earlier, one Mizanur Rahman alias Mizu was nabbed at Bangalmara with a “note printing machine” used to make counterfeit notes.

On September 21, 2018, police arrested Akbar Ali and Abdul Hannan of No.1 Sonapur village of Bangalmara for fraudulent activities of duping customers by promising double profit of cash in the counterfeit form.

The three duped customers Kamal Seikh, Mizanur Sheikh and Aizul Seikh from West Bengal were also arrested.

On the night of October 20, 2019, Lakhimpur police arrested Mijarul Islam (26), No. 1 Ahmedpur,  Jeherul Hoque Talukdar alias Bhaiti, from No.1 Daulatpur, Bangalmora, Abdul Shaheed (32), from Paschim Singibari, Rupohi, Nagaon, Yusuf Ali, of No. 1 Borsola and Kurban Ali (27) of No. 2 Islampur with counterfeit currencies. Police also recovered a cash amount of about Rs 12 lakhs from their possession.

This is what a case of cat and mouse game of police and traders of counterfeiters in Lakhimpur district which has been continuing for the last two decade.

The infamous counterfeiting and fake gold trade of Lakhimpur’s Bangalmora area have been on within a very small radius of only a few square kilometres consisting of villages Pandhowa, Borsola, Mohghuli, Tinithegiya, Sonapur, Jubanagar etc, under Bangalmora, Silanibari and Dolahat Police Outposts and Laluk and Bihpuria Police Stations.

Strangely, the inability by the police to bust and completely uproot the illicit trade of counterfeiting and fake gold in this small area has become a subject of public discussion and dissent across Lakhimpur which has earned a very bad name for the district.

Under the alleged protection of the police, the criminals invite the customers to this area to sell counterfeit notes and fake gold.

The customers are shown the “RBI machines” printing counterfeit notes, which are actually ordinary hand-made boxes, where some original notes are kept inside.

These demonstrations convince the customers and they pay huge amounts of cash to double them.

The sellers then take the cash and vanish from the spot leaving the buyers duped and stranded in an unknown locality.

The duped customers cannot even go to the police since they know it is an illegal activity, or on some occasions, if they do so, they are framed by the police.

This is the formula which has been going on repeatedly in Bangalmora area for a long period of time.

There have been public allegations of layers of corruption involving the police and political leaders and the local patrons for which the illicit trade is still flourishing.

Almost two thousand unemployed youths of this region are believed to be actively involved in this criminal activity.

Though the police make some arrests at regular intervals, the sections of the IPC they invoke in their cases are very weak for which the criminals get bail easily and resume to their illicit works again.

Lack of awareness campaigns by police and the district administration against this illicit trade in these areas are also responsible for the continuation of the crime.

Farhana Ahmed

Farhana Ahmed is Northeast Now Correspondent in North Lakhimpur. She can be reached at: farhana.ahmed777@gmail.com