Other States

Cattle smuggling goes on along Indo-Bangla border

Photo used for representative purposes only.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Two Border Security Force (BSF) personnel have been killed, allegedly by cattle smugglers along the India-Bangladesh border, over the past two months. Tushar Kanti Das died on September 14 at an outpost near Angrail in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, while Dipak Modal from the Tripura Frontier BSF succumbed to injuries he sustained in an attack on October 16.

The two deaths are an indication that cattle smuggling along the international border is a major challenge for security personnel guarding the border. An analysis of cattle seized along the India Bangladesh border reveals that there has been no significant drop in cattle smuggling since 2014.

Answers tabled by the Home Ministry on March 28, 2017, in response to questions raised by Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha, revealed that 1,09,999 heads of cattle were seized in 2014, 1,53,602in 2015 and 1,68,801 in 2016.

For the first nine months of 2017, till September 30, 99,744 heads of cattle were seized along this border. Senior officials of the BSF said that the numbers for all of 2017 may be somewhere between 1.3 lakh to 1.4 lakh heads of cattle seized.

Bucking the trend

There is one stretch of border that bucks this trend. Of the 1,09,999 heads of cattle seized in 2014, 1,01,751 (about 92%) were from the BSF’s South Bengal Frontier (SBF). But by 2017, cattle seized along the SBF had dropped to 43% of the total number of cattle heads seized — 43,597 of the 99,774 cattle heads seized in the entire eastern theatre.

BSF’s SBF, which extends from West Bengal’s Sunderbans to Malda is considered most porous and vulnerable to cross border smuggling. Of the 918-km border, only a third is fenced and large parts of about 360 km is riverine, where rivers flowing between the two countries serve as the international border.

Could the fall in numbers of cattle smuggled along this stretch indicate a change in smuggling routes, with smuggling activities shifting the north and northeast? Some numbers appear to indicate this.

In 2014, 6,651 heads of cattle were seized along the BSF’s North Bengal Frontier (NBF), which rose to 16,020 heads of cattle in 2016, and 11,542 heads of cattle till September 2017.

Cattle smuggling goes on along Indo-Bangla border

Officials of BSF’s NBF said many seizures were made along the national highway leading to Assam, a few kilometres off the border.

Till 2014, hardly any cattle heads were seized from the northeast, but the figures now indicate that almost 40% of cattle heads were seized from the northeast.

India shares a 4,096-km border with Bangladesh along the States of West Bengal (the longest at 2,216 km), followed by Tripura (856 km). The other States sharing borders with Bangladesh are Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km). Each State in the northeast has a dedicated BSF Frontier for managing security along the border. Illegal trade of cattle remains huge in terms of the numbers of cattle heads seized. “It is impossible to stop cattle smuggling as the margin of profit is very high and locals on both sides of the border benefit economically from it. It is like a cat and mouse game — you have increased surveillance at some spot and the smugglers try other places,” a senior BSF officer said.

High margins

The margin for one smuggled cattle head may be as high as ₹10,000-₹15,000, depending on the size of cattle. Figures indicate that over 5.32 lakh heads of cattle valued at valuing about ₹350 crore have been seized along the eastern theater since 2014. Along the SBF alone, over 3.25 lakh units of cattle valued at ₹200 crore have been seized since 2014.


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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 8:57:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/cattle-smuggling-goes-on-along-indo-bangla-border/article19901729.ece

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