The Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) carried out extensive searches at container depots in Chennai, Tughlakabad, Kanpur, Kolkata and Mumbai following a tip-off about large consignments of fake Indian currency notes being brought in through ports.
Import cargo was frozen at three sea ports in Tamil Nadu and Chennai airport. The operation began early morning and was on till the time of going to the press.
A senior customs official in Chennai said they had identified a container at Chennai port which, according to an intelligence input, may have Rs 400 crore in fake currency . “We will open it tomorrow,” said the official.
Another official in Mumbai said that some AK-47 rifles might have reached an inland container terminal in Tughlakabad, Delhi. However, a DRI official refused to confirm any seizure. There was an intelligence alert that fake currency was being brought into the country through the container route,” said an official in Delhi. Sources said the cargo would be released once the search is over.
Sources in Mumbai said DRI and CBI swung into action following information gathered by the national security adviser’s office that Rs 150 crore in fake currency has been smuggled into the country. Information indicated that the fake currency originated from Pakistan and may have landed at Chennai, Mumbai or ICD Tughlakabad. An official said imports at these three locations have been stopped, which means no container will leave the port without examination. This is bound to create chaos as currently only random inspection of containers happens at the ports.
Customs received a specific intelligence report on Friday evening of fake Indian currency notes in denominations of 2,000 and 500 having reached Chennai in a container. Customs stopped clearing import cargo at Chennai, Ennore and Kattupalli ports. “It is part of a nationwide alert, a few other cities have also been alerted,” said another officer. “Nothing can move out of the port without DRI’s clearance. Export cargo s allowed to be passed.”
Customs has sent a circular to all its managers at container freight stations in Chennai customs zone asking them to report for duty on Sunday . They have also sought reinforcements for CISF cover at Chennai port.
One has to wonder – why such haste in banning old notes, and not going for polymer bills to start with! That is BJP! Short term gain
Soon after the alert on Friday evening, DRI and customs launched a search. All import boxes that arrived at the three TN ports after March 1 are being checked thoroughly and cleared after due process by customs, an internal communication said.
Not a single import container left the Kolkata Port on Saturday because of the DRI customs operation. The port officials are not being kept in the loop, sources said.