According to the Reserve Bank of India's clean note policy, the highest denomination currency note in India, the ₹2,000 note, will lose its status as legal tender after September 30, 2023. The process of exchanging or depositing the ₹2,000 notes began earlier this year on May 23rd. Since then, intelligence agencies have uncovered ongoing efforts by suspected Maoist and Pakistan-based ISI operatives to exchange 2,000 Rupee notes. This development has raised significant concerns about national security and the integrity of the currency system.
Pakistan-Based ISI Agents Involved in Exchange of 2,000 Rupee Notes
Reliable sources within the agency have indicated that ISI-supported individuals from Pakistan are playing the role of contractors in the exchange of ₹2,000 notes. These Pakistan-based ISI agents had also deposited lakhs of rupees in ₹2,000 notes, which were being used in suspicious activities and for terror funding. However, after the announcement to discontinue the ₹2,000 currency note, they started using a suspicious network based in Chennai to exchange these notes.
Currently, these ISI agents are operating on a commission basis as contractors for the exchange of ₹2,000 currency notes. They are trying to maintain contact with individuals who possess black money in ₹2,000 notes. These ISI agents, with the assistance of local sleeper cells, undertake contracts for converting ₹2,000 notes on a commission basis without revealing their identities. They receive deliveries of these notes at different stations in Mumbai and then send them to Chennai for conversion.
According to the agency, this represents a new business model for Pakistan-based handlers to collect terror funding. Income tax, NIA, and other agencies are actively working on dismantling the syndicate operations.
Naxals Attempting to Convert 2,000 Rupees Currency Notes
In response to a request from the Income Tax Department recently, the CRPF and other security agencies have heightened security around bank branches located in Naxal-affected areas of Gadchiroli, Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas of Chhattisgarh. This heightened security will remain in place until September 30, 2023, with the purpose of monitoring the exchange of 2,000 Rupees notes, identifying and apprehending Maoist facilitators in the act, and confiscating Maoist funds to weaken their movement.
Recently, security forces apprehended two facilitators linked to the Chattisgarh Naxal commander, Mallesh, in Bijapur, Chattisgarh. They were found in possession of 6 lakhs Rupees in 2,000 Rupee notes. Both Maoist facilitators were arrested at Mahadev Ghat by a joint team consisting of the District Reserve Guard and Bijapur Police. The police recovered the 6 lakhs Rupees in 2,000 Rupee notes along with 11 passbooks from different bank accounts. It was discovered that the individuals intended to deposit the money in a bank and facilitate the conversion of these notes for the Naxals.
In the same vein, Nagpur police and CRPF apprehended two Naxal sympathizers in the months of July and August, who were found in possession of 27 lakhs Rupees in 2,000 Rupee denomination notes. These arrests took place in Aheri, situated approximately 300 km from Nagpur. During their interrogation, the duo disclosed that a Naxalite named Giridhar had entrusted them with the entire sum in 2,000 Rupee notes, instructing them to exchange these notes for 500 Rupee denominations. Additionally, he instructed them to return the money after deducting their commission for completing the task.
Based on the threat management system, security forces have successfully apprehended multiple Maoist facilitators found in possession of 18 lakhs Rupees in 2,000 Rupee denominations.
According to RBI, the total value of ₹2,000 banknotes received back from circulation is ₹3.32 lakh crore up to August 31, 2023. Consequently, ₹2,000 banknotes in circulation as at the close of business on August 31, 2023, stood at ₹0.24 lakh crore. Thus, 93% of the ₹2,000 banknotes in circulation as on May 19, 2023, have since been returned.