Briton arrested with ‘contraband’ Indian currency in Nepal

Kathmandu, Nov 16 ( A Briton was arrested Monday at Nepal’s only international airport for carrying high-denomination Indian currency notes which are deemed contraband in India’s northern neighbour, police said.

Venkatraman Jagannathan was arrested at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu after he was found to be carrying Indian Rs.50,000 in notes of 1,000-rupee denomination. The possession of Indian 1,000-rupee notes, as well as 500-rupee notes, is illegal in Nepal.

Jagannathan was bound for New Delhi on a Jet Lite flight.

Police said he has been sent to the revenues investigation department to check whether the money was genuine or counterfeit.

Though lower Indian denominations are accepted in Nepal, the government banned the use of 1,000-rupee and 500-rupee notes more than a decade back following Reserve Bank of India guidelines in this regard.

The step was taken to prevent the growing counterfeiting of Indian currency by organised criminal networks running through several countries as well as prevent the sponsoring of terrorist activities.

Since it is easier to carry large sums of money in 1000-rupee notes, Nepal was being used as a transit country to fund anti-India terrorist activities.

However, people in India and other countries still largely remain ignorant about the restrictions, resulting in trouble at the Kathmandu airport.

In June, an Indian, Anil Sharma, faced a harrowing time after he was found to be carrying Rs.140,000 in 1,000-rupee notes.

Carrying large sums of Indian currency, be it in the ‘banned’ notes or even lesser denomination, is also a punishable offence in Nepal if the carrier is not Indian or Nepali.

However, foreign tourists coming to Nepal via India are often unaware of the regulation.