Major ports and transhipment container terminals in the country are on high alert after the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) received a secret information that large consignments of fake currencies are being shipped to India from Pakistan. The DRI conducted the search in various ports across the country. The reports or fake notes in containers reminded Keralites of the 'mystery' over the shipment of fake notes reported to have reached Kochi in 2009 and 'disappeared' without trace. 


Kerala revisited the container fake currency controversy recently during the heated political debate over demonetization in November last year. 
 

Related:  'Container fake note' debate between BJP, CPM turns ugly in Kerala
 

 "Where did the two containers of fake currency that reached in Kochi port during the previous Left regime in Kerala go," asked Kerala BJP chief Kummanam Rajashekharan in November last year to Kerala government. 

 

Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac was quick to reply: 'Let the 'surgical strike experts' dig into it and find out the counterfeit notes." 

 

Even though politicians continue to trade charges, no one knows exactly what was the truth behind the Kochi container fake note incident. Was it true or just another hoax smuggled in for diverting public attention?


The story of Kochi container currency haul
 

In October 2009, unconfirmed reports said that containers full of fake Indian currencies were intercepted by a joint team of DRI, Customs and Central Excise. The container arrived at Kochi from Dubai and was shipped to India in the pretext that it was a consignment of children's diapers made in China. 

 

Even though the central agencies did not confirm the news, quick assumptions were made that the fake currency consignment was the handiwork of a mafia with its roots in Kasargod and with deep links in the Gulf countries and Pakistan's ISI. 
 

Related: Did ₹200 cr black money land in Kochi? Central agencies on high alert!
 

Rediff, quoting sources in Economic Offences Wing, had reported that most of the notes seized by the central agencies "closely resembled the original Indian currency."

 

In a recent Facebook Post, A Suresh, a close aide and personal staff member of VS Achuthanandan, who was the Chief Minister in 2009, revealed that the then State Intelligence chief had submitted a report on the 'container fake notes.' "Jacob Punnoose, the former state Intelligence chief, in his report stated that two containers of fake Indian currencies reached Kochi and disappeared without a trace," Suresh wrote.

 

Soon, the sensational news lost its steam. The Central Agencies kept mum; the agencies did not confirm or deny the reports, and no case was registered. 

 

But whenever huge fake currency hauls were reported from Kerala after that, the term 'container fake note' used to pop up in general discussions, even though none knew for sure about its veracity. It remains a mystery even now. 
 

Related: Fake currency mafia pumped ₹ 16,800 cr into Kerala economy!
 

When Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac challenged the BJP to investigate and find out what happened to the Kochi container notes, Kummanam Rajashekharan took up the challenge. He stated that the BJP would demand the central government to inquire into the matter. That was in November last year. We have not heard about it since. 

 

Fake currency menace in Kerala
 

Reports quoting Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) say that the tentacles of the fake currency network were so deeply rooted in Kerala that it operated a parallel economy in the state. 

 

A review report of the DRI calculates that the Hawala mafia pumped in fake notes to the tune of ₹ 16,800 crores in the past 25 years in Kerala. But the government agencies and banks managed to recover counterfeit notes worth ₹ 1,000 crores only.  The rest of the currencies, most of them ₹500, and ₹ 1,000 were circulating in the economy. 

 

The influx of fake currencies is believed to have had contributed to the real estate boom in the state.  The fake notes suspected to have minted at Pakistan were so identical with the original ones that the customers often received them from ATMs of major banks.