Currency: A 27-year-old man from Manipur, India is under police custody in Phuentsholing, arrested for using fake Indian rupees (INR) in Bhutan.

The accused had INR 10,000 when he was arrested on April 5.  He was able to exchange the fake notes at four shops in the town in a day.

Police apprehended him when he was attempting to exchange for a fifth time.  The shopkeeper identified the fake notes and reported to police.

As modus operandi, sources said the accused bought small and inexpensive items.  He then paid in INR denominations of INR 500 and INR 1,000 to collect ngultrums that were given in change.

Kuensel learned the accused had another person, who was working with him.  Jaigaon police had pursued him, following information passed on by the police in Phuentsholing, but he managed to get away.  Sources say he had run away leaving a bagful of fake notes.

Meanwhile, this is the second time counterfeit cases have been reported in Phuentsholing.  On March 10, police also arrested an Indian man in his early 30s for allegedly offering fake INR in the town.

Four shopkeepers were cheated with 34 rupee 500 notes.

As Phuentsholing shares a porous border with the neighbouring town of Jaigaon, counterfeit cases have remained a constant problem among both Bhutanese and Indians.  With the illegal buying and selling of INR, Bhutanese are easily lured.

Three men, including one Bhutanese, are currently serving prison terms of at least three years for a similar case last year.  Counterfeiting with fake notes is a fourth degree felony which carried a three to five year prison term, if proven guilty.

By Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing