Cattle smuggling, which is the “root cause” for firing incidents across the Indo- Bangla border, has dwindled to about one per cent in the past one year after India’s clampdown on the illegal trade, top Bangladeshi border guard officials said today.
Commander of the Border Guard Bangladesh’s (BGB) South West Region Md Khalilur Rahman told a visiting group of Indian journalists here that cattle, especially cow, is “not being received” from the Indian side and such incidents have gone down by 99 per cent in the last one year.
The Additional Director General rank officer of the BGB commands the second largest frontier of the country (opposite North 24 Parganas in West Bengal) and is the most notorious area between the two neighbours in terms of cattle smuggling and other criminal activities.
“Cow smuggling incidents across the Indo-Bangla border have come down to about 1 per cent as compared to the statistics of sometime back. To give an example, last year in a particular area we had about 11,000 cattle coming in a day but now this time the figures are only about 200-300.
“We are not getting any cattle from India now and this has prompted us to ask our countrymen to rear our own cattle.
“During the recent Eid celebrations we could see the huge difference in cost of the cattle in our markets,” Rahman said when questioned by PTI at the frontier headquarters here, over 200 kms from national capital Dhaka.
BGB Director (Operations) of the South-West Region, Maksud Ahmed said a major “irritant” in the cordial ties between the two border guard forces has been the killing and injury to Bangladeshi people in border areas by the BSF.
“Cattle smuggling is the root cause for border firing. We are undertaking joint operations with BSF to minimise and totally bring an end to these cases,” he said.
Since taking over, the Modi government had stressed on curbing this issue of cattle with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh exhorting Border Security Force (BSF) personnel to ensure a complete clampdown on cattle smuggling to Bangladesh.
Rahman, however, claimed that Bangladesh now had a surplus of home-reared cattle during this Eid.
The price, he said, which had shot up to Rs 80,000 to 1 lakh per head after the clampdown on cow smuggling by BSF, has now come down to Rs 50,000-60,000, as the indigenous industry was producing good number of cattle.
The BGB commander said they have decided to cooperate with their counterparts on the border– the BSF — and will not allow any smuggled cows to pass through the areas under their control. “All this is happening as we are not getting any cows from India (as part of smuggling). We have now decided to rear our own cattle and meet our demands,” Rahman said.
Rahman added they have conveyed to BSF that a majority of this cattle and cow which is illegally pushed across the border is “not cultivated” in India’s frontier areas but travels to these places from the hinterland and central Indian states and they should curb this.
He said with cattle smuggling coming down, the incidents of killing of Bangladeshi nationals on the border are also expected to go as down as earlier when “this business (cattle smuggling) was going on, a huge number of cowboys would go across the border and get caught by BSF who tortured them and at times shot them down.”
As per BSF authorities manning the border under the South Bengal frontier opposite this area, they have seized a total of 1,18,711 cattle heads till August this year, which is 70 per cent less than last year, before they could be smuggled across the border.
Rahman, however, claimed his force has not encountered any cases of fake Indian currency notes in their area and there is no big challenge posed by the smuggling of arms and ammunition in the areas under his command like Khulna and Kushtia at this border too.