Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is investigating the involvement of Border Security Force (BSF) officers in connection with allegations of cattle smuggling in south Bengal, the border force has begun action against its personnel.
“Three of our personnel have been suspended and we have thrown out (transferred) six personnel for their alleged involvement in cattle smuggling,” Additional Director General, East BSF, Pankaj Kumar Singh said. Mr. Singh said the force is cooperating with the CBI as far as their investigation is concerned and has assured of action against anyone involved in any wrongdoing.
The CBI had registered a case in September 2020 and arrested two BSF commandants and one local businessman who were allegedly involved in cattle smuggling along south Bengal.
The ADG East said cattle smuggling is at an all time low, particularly in south Bengal. According to the figures provided by the BSF, the seizure of cattle dropped to 5,000 in south Bengal in 2020 and the figure for entire West Bengal was 12,000. The number of cattle heads seized in West Bengal in 2019 was 39,000.
Mr Singh said that there is a change in the trend of cattle smuggling and now more cattle are being smuggled from Guwahati frontier and also from Meghalaya. “We are aware of the change in the trends... when there is a clampdown in one area, there is a tendency to switch to other areas,” he said.
The BSF official added that despite the lockdown there is an increase in the number of Bangladeshi nationals crossing the border. Mr Singh pointed out that the increase is number of people apprehended is as high as 20% more in 2020 compared to 2019.
Meanwhile, he also referred to incidents of loss of lives along international border in incidents involving illegal trespassing. “Our forces are provided with non lethal weapons, they only fire from lethal weapons when there is a threat on their lives or there are chances of their weapons being snatched,” he said.
The BSF adopts a policy of non-lethal approach when it comes to those involved along the border but over the past few months there have been incidents where firing has resulted in loss of lives of both Indian and Bangladeshi nationals.
“Most of these incidents where loss of lives have been reported have taken place between 12 in the night and 5 a.m. in the morning," he said. India shares a border of about 4,097 km border with Bangladesh and the South Bengal Frontier which guards an area of 913 km from Sundarban to Maldi in West Bengal is most porous due to its riverine nature and most prone to cross border smuggling and infiltration.