Chandigarh, December 1: As the Mohali police signalled a Rs 70 lac Audi with a flashing red beacon to stop as it entered Punjab from Chandigarh near Jagatpura village of Mohali, they did not know that two of the young occupants, both related, were out to frustrate one of the stated objectives of demonitisation introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that has been hailed by his Bhakts as the most innovative step introduced by this government. Two of these objectives are wiping out fake currency and confronting terrorist attacks, mainly from across the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
The well-educated man and woman were printing fake currency. They were carrying Rs 42 lakh of such currency that looked like “better than original”, as a policeman put it. The third one was a middle aged property dealer from Ludhiana who was their facilitator.
According to the initial information given out by them during interrogation, they confessed to have printed fake currency notes of Rs 2000 denomination amounting to about Rs 3 crore. They have been exchanging the unaccounted money lying with the people. Abhinav Verma is a BTech while his accomplice Vishaka Verma, 21, is doing MBA from Manipal University.
It may be mentioned that earlier in the very first week of demonitiosation, the police had arrested a person from the border area small town of Bhikhiwind near Amritsar for printing fake Rs 2,000 note at his computer shop.
Fake notes of Rs 2000 denomination are already in circulation as the banks all over the country continue to witness long queues.
Modi defended demonitisation as one of the main weapon to fight terrorism. However, body bags are piling up since the Uri terrorist attack that was followed by the much politicised surgical strike across the Line of Control. The latest case is that of attack on army establishment at Nagrota. Bodies continue to be mutilated. The BJP people who used to attack Dr Manmohan Singh as the weak prime minister are now mum.
People are also dying while standing in queues outside the banks. The Modi Bhakts talk of thousands of crores having been deposited in the banks since the demonitisation. However, one can’t say how much of these Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes are in black. It is also the money that was part of the non-banking sector. But then black money economy is lesser in black currency and more of investment.
The country is witnessing re-alignment of forces on this issue with political boundaries being redrawn. Modi has now unexpected supporter in Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik. It is West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who is leading the anti-demontisation brigade with Congress being not too active a supporter of her. She is known to be the best street fighter among the political class.
It is mainly the people from the weaker sections who form the crowds outside banks. It is being said that these are the people who stand every morning to be hired. They are the people who are in the queues at the railway stations and government hospitals. They are used to it and there is nothing unusual about standing in a queue. Many earn their daily wage by standing in the queue on behalf of their employer.
At one level, Modi has taken a position that, on the surface of it, seems to be morally hegemonistic. He is painting the entire opposition as supporters of black money economy by opposing demonitisation. However, he is still to face the Parliament. He is only addressing the mobs.
In a way, he is trying to change moral binary. A section of the economists have expressed the view that the economy would revive, say after about six months. However, it is the political cost during this interregnum that can be heavy. The immediate challenge is the election in Punjab where BJP is in alliance with the Akali Dal. The alliance is facing tsunami of anti-incumbency. Modi government would this time present budget on February 1. In case the budget is game changer, then it would be a different situation.
Presently, it is the common man who has been hit the hardest. The situation can deepen the crisis in the farm sector and construction industry.
Mansa in Punjab witnessed an interesting situation yesterday. Shops downed shutters on the call given by the Beopar Mandal against demonization. The BJP people took out pro-demonitisation march. Small towns are witnessing increasing protests in the state.