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Smuggler dies in BSF firing

Cooch Behar, Feb. 13: An 18-year-old boy allegedly part of a cattle smugglers’ gang was shot dead by the BSF today near Tufanganj.

BSF sources said around 6am, three jawans spotted a group of 25 to 30 men at Jhaljhali village, 30km from here, trying to steer cattle to the other side of the border.

The jawans chased the gang and the smugglers allegedly attacked the border guards with sticks and sharp weapons.

“The smugglers managed to catch hold of a jawan and started beating him up. They stabbed him and tried to drag him towards Jhaljhali village. Seeing this, another jawan opened fire killing Saheb Ali, 18, on the spot,” a BSF source said.

He added that earlier this morning, the gang from Jhaljhali had smuggled some cattleheads into Bangladesh and had returned to the village to take away more animals when the BSF jawans spotted them.

There is no fencing along the India-Bangladesh border for a 3km stretch in the village as the Kaljani river flows through the area, making the stretch ideal for smuggling. Indian cattle smugglers use this stretch often to take cattle into Bangladesh.

“There are frequent attempts to smuggle cattle into Bangladesh through this area,” a BSF source said.

Ashok Kumar, the deputy inspector-general of the BSF’s Falakata sector, who is now in -charge of the Cooch Behar sector, said: “The boy who was killed was part of a group of cattle smugglers that managed to send at least 10 cattleheads across the border earlier this morning.”

He added that the BSF stopped the group while it was taking more cattleheads towards the border.

“Our men fired in self-defence as jawan Ranjit Singh was attacked with sticks and beaten up. He was also stabbed in the right thigh with a sharp weapon. The BSF fired to save the jawan who is now admitted to the Tufanganj subdivisional hospital,” Kumar said.

Saheb’s father Hasem Ali claimed the boy was not a cattle smuggler. “My son was watering paddy fields near the border when the BSF killed him.”

Trinamul MLA from Natabari Rabindranath Ghosh visited the spot today. “Tufanganj police are probing the firing and we hope that the investigation will reveal what actually happened,” he said.