Dip in illegal cattle trade at India-Bangladesh border: BSF

Cattle smuggling to Bangladesh has gone down sharply due to a number measures put in place by the state, the centre and the security agencies, Border Security Force (BSF) officials told Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a meeting on Sunday.

“While 39,558 cattle were seized during 2016 and 16,593 during 2017, the numbers dropped to 1,051 cattle caught up to July this year, showing that illegal trading was on the decline,” the BSF told Sonowal, according to a statement from the CM’s office.

An unofficial home ministry estimate a couple of years ago had claimed that roughly two million cattle were being pushed into Bangladesh every year by smugglers to meet the high demand for beef in the neighbouring country.

BSF officials say these rustlers use all kinds of methods to trick the border patrols — one was to tie the cattle to banana trunk rafts, cover them with a blanket of weed and make them swim across the Brahmaputra and other rivers; the most common being to herd them across the border.

While West Bengal and Assam are said to be the main transit points, some cattle smuggling takes place through Meghalaya and Tripura as well.

“The most affected areas of cattle smuggling are Nadia, Murshidabad, Malda, Dakshin Dinajpur, Uttar Dinajpur, Raiganj, Siliguri in West Bengal and Dhubri in Assam,” said a Parliamentary Committee report on Border Security: Capacity Building and Institutions, tabled in April 2017.

Dhubri, in lower Assam, which shares border with both West Bengal and Bangladesh, figured high on the cattle smuggling map, estimated to be worth around ~20,000 crore annually at its peak, say officials.

While restriction on inter-state movement is one of the reasons, the BSF told Sonowal the dip is also because of its efforts as it has come up with temporary posts in the 5-km radius from the border to help with more information and more time to react.

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