Kerala- South Asia’s Hawala Capital

via published on July 25, 2007

 Intelligence agencies turn heat on Kerala hawala operators

Pioneer News Service | Thiruvananthapuram

The Central intelligence agencies are closely monitoring the hawala transactions in the State. Sources in the intelligence agencies point out that the State was fast becoming the hawala capital of the country and perhaps of South Asia.

The State Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Tuesday revealed to a stunned Assembly that funds to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore were being sent through hawala route to the State. The Minister also said that a large chunk of these notes was counterfeit.

Besides, the recent arrest of the Dubai-based, Interpol-wanted criminal KS Abdulla shows how far and wide the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI had spread its tentacles. ISI is suspected to be facilitating the fake currency racket in the State.

After the arrest of Abdulla, several such counterfeit currency rackets operating from in and around Kozhikode airport were busted by the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). It was found that almost all the notes seized were of high quality and the officials had admitted that without the assistance of a foreign agency such hi-tech printing was next to impossible.

The Home Minister had told the Assembly that several fundamentalist and criminal elements were also involved in the hawala racket. According to him, one Hilal Mohammed was considered to be one of the key persons behind the racket. He was also accused of providing financial assistance to the Marad criminals, who had hacked to death eight fishermen.

The Home Minister said that a team of police officials under Inspector General Vinson M Paul was constituted for launching operations against hawala racket as well as the counterfeit racket.

Although the Home Minister needs to be appreciated for appointing one of the most respected and upright officers of the State police for the job, there are fears that whether the police would be able measure up to the expectations. Given, the role of certain police officials in shielding the accused in Marad massacre and their underworld contacts, the fears seem to be well placed. During the Marad issue, there were allegations that a top leader of an Islamic fundamentalist outfit had met a top ranking police officer in a resort at Munnar.

The intelligence agencies are probing his role in the racket especially with regard to giving security for transfer of money to designated points.

Meanwhile, the agencies have stepped up their vigilance on certain fundamentalist organisations active in the State for the past one decade. There were concerted efforts by a north Kerala-based fundamentalist outfit to foment criminal disturbances in the State.

The agencies are also verifying real estate dealings in several places, including the transfer of huge properties in prime locations of Kozhikode and Kochi.

Antecedents of certain people, who have invested heavily in agricultural properties including rubber and cardamom plantations, are also being probed. According to a senior intelligence official this is to prepare safe havens for their nefarious activities including imparting physical training to the recruits.

The alleged arrest of the dreaded Maoist leader Rajamouli from Kollam has also forced the intelligence agencies to focus its attention on Kerala.

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