Bangla profits up cattle smuggling

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By SUMIR KARMAKAR
  • Published 8.08.11
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Guwahati, Aug. 7: The leather industry and beef processing units in neighbouring Bangladesh are encouraging smuggling of Indian cattle through the porous Indo-Bangladesh borders, including the stretch of international border in Dhubri district.

The Union home ministry has said the leather and tannery industries and processed beef units in Bangladesh were mostly dependent on smuggled Indian cattle. Export of the items produced by these units to West Asian countries led to further encouragement of cross-border smuggling.

The export of processed beef to West Asian countries at lucrative rates is one of the major reasons behind cattle smuggling — this was conveyed to Assam MP in Rajya Sabha, Bhubaneswar Kalita, by the ministry of home affairs in a letter on August 3, in reply to his questions regarding cattle smuggling.

“Smuggling of cattle has been reported through the porous and riverine portions of the border between India and Bangladesh that is not yet fully fenced and is characterised by thick vegetation, hills, forest areas, low-lying patches and thick population right up to zero-line. All these factors make the border vulnerable to illegal cross-border activities, including cattle smuggling,” said the letter.

Police and BSF personnel manning the international borders in Assam are facing a tough time trying to check the rampant smuggling of cattle through the border in Dhubri district. This is the first time that the Union home ministry has pointed out the reasons behind the smuggling.

The BSF, manning the 4,096km-Indo-Bangladesh border, have seized over four lakh cattle since 2008, while they were being smuggled into Bangladesh. More than 54,000 cattle have been seized by the BSF in Dhubri district alone since 2008.

Investigations revealed that cows were brought in trucks from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to Dhubri and smuggled across the border into Bangladesh. They were then taken to slaughterhouses, where the meat was separated, processed, packaged with preservatives and exported. The bones were ground and made into bone ash for use as manure while the skin went to leather factories.

People living in the border areas in Dhubri district complained that unabated smuggling of cattle resulted in cattle theft.

The home ministry letter said in order to check cross-border illegal activities, including cattle smuggling, effective domination of the border was being done by carrying out round-the-clock surveillance. The riverine segments were patrolled with the help of watercraft, speedboats, floating border outposts of the BSF’s water wing. “Modern, hi-tech surveillance equipment like Long Range Reconnaissance and Observation System, Battle Field Surveillance Radars, Handheld Thermal Imagers, Night Vision Devices and goggles have been installed to keep watch on the borders,” it said.