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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

BSF allege smugglers working in collusion with section of elected panchayat members to transport cattle

On Wednesday, on-duty BSF personnel at Arjun border outpost had stopped a homemaker while she was carrying two calves in e-rickshaws to her in-laws’ house at 101 Fulkadabri village in Mekhliganj subdivision of the district

Main Uddin Chisti Cooch Behar Published 16.09.23, 06:07 AM
The area near the Arjun border outpost, where the homemaker was detained with cattle on Wednesday. The border pillar (in white) is seen on the left

The area near the Arjun border outpost, where the homemaker was detained with cattle on Wednesday. The border pillar (in white) is seen on the left

The BSF that guards the India-Bangladesh frontier has alleged that smugglers are working in collusion with a section of elected panchayat members in some areas of Cooch Behar district to transport cattle to the neighbouring country through unfenced stretches of the border.

“It was decided in consultation with administrative officials three to four years ago that transportation of cattle beyond the Arjun border outpost (which is under the jurisdiction of Kuchlibari police station) would be allowed only with the written permission of the BDO or the SDO after they actually assessed the economic condition and the need of the villager concerned,” a BSF officer said on condition of anonymity on Friday.

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On Wednesday, the on-duty BSF personnel at the Arjun border outpost (BOP) had stopped a homemaker while she was carrying two calves in e-rickshaws to her in-laws’ house at 101 Fulkadabri village in Mekhliganj subdivision of the district. The woman claimed that the calves had been gifted by her parents.

The chief and other members of the BJP-run Bagdogra-Fulkadabri panchayat reached the BOP and asked the BSF to release the woman, along with the calves.

Anima Roy, the panchayat chief, had alleged that some BSF personnel had misbehaved with them and one of them had even threatened to shoot them. On Thursday, Roy, along with BJP supporters, blocked the Mekhliganj-Dhapra Road for four hours against the alleged highhandedness of the BSF.

Cooch Behar is the home district of Nisith Pramanik, the Union minister of state for home affairs. The BSF and other paramilitary forces come under the Union home ministry.

The BSF on Friday said it had come across cases where cattle smugglers forged signatures of BDOs to validate the movement of animals near the border.

“There is information that local panchayat members charge money from smugglers to help them carry cattle beyond the Arjun BOP, saying the animals were gifts and for domestic purposes,” said a source.

Mekhliganj block development officer Arun Kumar Samanta said it was not possible for officials to check the bona fides of applicants.

“How can we have information about the applicant? The elected representatives of rural bodies have an important role here. The BSF should be allowed to verify the purpose if cattle is carried near the border,” said Samanta.

A senior BSF officer has said Dahagram-Angrapota, the sole Bangladeshi enclave that still exists in India, is located beyond the Arjun BOP.

“There are unfenced stretches along the international border and the enclave is on the other side. Smugglers try to send cattle to Bangladesh through these stretches,” he said.

On Wednesday, Dipti Roy Dakua, the homemaker, was asked to show the permission letter of the SDO and the BDO but she failed. Hence, she was asked to get permission and show it to the BSF, said sources.

She was allowed to take away the two calves following the protests by the BJP.

“Soon after, another villager tried to take four cattle heads through the area. He was stopped. The block administration is likely to convene a meeting soon and we will clarify our point then,” said the BSF officer.

Dayal Roy, a BJP leader of 101 Fulkadabri and Anima’s husband who had led the protests on Thursday, said: “None from our party is involved in such illegal practices here. The BSF should understand that gifting calves is a common practice in villages.”

Avijit De Bhowmik, the Cooch Behar district Trinamul president, scoffed at the BJP over the issue. “Whether it is the elected representatives or local leaders, no one from Trinamul indulges in illegal activities on the border. The incident in fact has proved that a section of BJP leaders has links with smugglers, as has been reconfirmed by the BSF,” said Bhowmik.

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