Bank notes are scrapped to beat laun­der­ing

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

A Pak­istani gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial has said that Na­tional Ge­o­graphic’s famed green-eyed ‘Afghan Girl’ has been de­ported to Afghanistan. Fayaz Khan said Shar­bat Gulla and her four chil­dren were handed over to Afghan author­i­ties early yes­ter­day at the Torkham bor­der cross­ing, about 60km north­west of the Pak­istani city of Pe­shawar. Gulla was ar­rested in late Oc­to­ber on charges of car­ry­ing fake Pak­istani ID pa­pers and stay­ing in Pak­istan il­le­gally. A Pe­shawar court later or­dered her de­ported. She gained in­ter­na­tional fame in 1984 as an Afghan refugee girl, af­ter war pho­tog­ra­pher Steve McCurry’s pho­to­graph of her, with pierc­ing green eyes, was pub­lished on Na­tional Ge­o­graphic’s cover. McCurry found her again in 2002. How­ever, in 2014, she went into hid­ing af­ter author­i­ties ac­cused her of buy­ing fake Pak­istani doc­u­ments. In­dia has scrapped its high­est-de­nom­i­na­tion cur­rency notes, de­liv­er­ing a blow to black-mar­ket money laun­der­ers but plung­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of com­mon cit­i­zens hold­ing cash sav­ings into fear and un­cer­tainty.

Within hours of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi an­nounc­ing the sur­prise move in a tele­vised ad­dress, peo­ple thronged to ATMs, stand­ing in long lines in hopes of grab­bing bills that might still be in cir­cu­la­tion yes­ter­day.

As of mid­night on Tues­day, all 500 and 1,000-ru­pee notes had no cash value. Modi as­sured that peo­ple hold­ing the dis­con­tin­ued notes would be able to de­posit them in banks and post of­fice sav­ings ac­counts be­fore the end of the year and that new bills for 500 and 2,000 ru­pees were be­ing printed and sent quickly to banks.

He said any­one mak­ing large bank de­posits in the com­ing weeks would find them­selves the tar­get of In­dian tax author­i­ties.

“A few peo­ple are spread­ing cor­rup­tion for their own ben­e­fit,” he said in the speech. “There is a time when you re­alise that you have to bring some change in so­ci­ety, and this is our time.”

For a few days, the old bills would still be ac­cepted at hospi­tals, petrol sta­tions, cre­ma­to­ria and for other busi­nesses and ser­vices deemed es­sen­tial.

Banks ap­plauded the move as the strong­est-ever mea­sure against the par­al­lel, black econ­omy and pledged to quickly re­stock their cash re­serves with the newly printed bills.

“It’s a good mea­sure,” said Anuj Mathur, a banker who was among more than two dozen peo­ple lined up out­side a south New Delhi ATM ma­chine about 10pm on Tues­day. It will be in­con­ve­nient for a few days, but “this will clean up the sys­tem”.

Modi said author­i­ties have dis­cov­ered 1.25 tril­lion ru­pees, or about $18.8 bil­lion, in il­le­gal cash over the last two and a half years. Coun­ter­feit­ing was also a ma­jor con­cern, he said.

CASH­ING OUT: All 500 and 1,000-ru­pee notes are be­ing taken out of cir­cu­la­tion

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