Englishbazar: Malda district in West Bengal is widely known as the hub of Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) in India. With a porous border, areas like Kaliachak, Sujapur, Mojompur, Baishnabnagar have been under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) radar for a long time as a substantial amount of FICN enters India through this corridor from Bangladesh. The area is also a hub for black money hoarders.
Thus, ever since the central government’s decision to demonetise high value currency notes, an interesting trend has taken shape in the border region of Malda. Poor families, most of whom are farmers are being used to channel the black money. Rich traders are using the bank accounts of these poor families to deposit huge tranche of cash. When India Today did a reality check, we found even people who have dormant bank accounts and generally beg for a living are being given Rs 2,000/3,000 at a time in exchange of their bank account where the traders want to put in their cash.
“Whoever has large sums of money are asking us to take that and deposit it in our bank accounts in return for 1,000 or 2,000 rupees,” said one of the villagers living in Kaliachak I block on condition of anonymity. Another villager accepted that local business men who had hidden money were approaching poor households and transferring their money in those accounts mostly lying dormant. “The rich traders are depositing about one or two lacs each in someone else’s account and paying a small charge to the account holder in order to convert their black money,” the villager explained.
We found one such bank account holder, Onara Bewa standing outside the SBI branch at Shujapur for hours. When India Today asked her why she was at the bank, to our surprise she said she had no money but was brought there by someone else! “I am a beggar and this is the first time I’m coming to this bank. I don’t know anything…they have got me here,” she claimed. In fact, most poor bank account holders have told India Today that they had never used their account since the time it was opened. Even college students caught on camera say they have never done any transaction using their bank accounts, yet they had lined up outside the bank for the first time to deposit lacs for someone else.
“I have come here to deposit Rs 3 lakh.
I am a student and this is my first time to this bank ever since I opened an account three years back,” said one such student living in Mojompur. Another such student said he was depositing Rs 50,000 in return of Rs 2,000. “Never came to the bank before. This time I’m depositing Rs 50,000. Yes, I will benefit too, as they are giving Rs 2,000,” claimed Md Yusuf Sheik from Mojompur. Infact, public sector banks in the area have put up notices cautioning customers to not allow others to use their accounts for the purpose.
“We are advising the poor not to take other people’s money and deposit it in their account. We are informing them that this can later cause problems for therm. We are cross checking before accepting their money,” said Pradip Kumar Dey, Manager of the Allahabad Bank branch at Chandpur in Malda.