The cases of seizing cattle by Border Security Force (BSF) on the Bangladesh-India border have dropped by 53% to 21,917 in 2021, according to an official report.
The report shows numbers falling consistently over the last three years, ANI reports.
The seizures of cattle reported at the Bangladesh border had plummeted 71% from 77,410 in 2019 to 21,917 in 2021.
The maximum number of cattle recoveries were made in Guwahati frontier where a total of 8,436 recoveries were done in 2021 as compared to 21,749 in 2020. Till July 2022, some 6,383 cattle recoveries have been done.
In the Meghalaya frontier, 10,647 recoveries were made in the year 2020 as compared to 3,273 recoveries in the year 2021 while this year only 2,329 recoveries have been done.
A senior BSF officer informed that the involvement of technology has strengthened their border security measures. Expect for certain riverine areas, fencing has been done at the borders.
"Eastern borders are extremely porous, unlike the western borders. Despite numerous hurdles, all our Frontiers and Battalions have performed extremely well in curbing the smuggling of cattle and other objects. To keep watch on smugglers, we have a robust intelligence network. There have been many instances of aggressive attacks on our troops by trans-border smugglers and criminals. They surround and attack our troops with sharp-edged implements as well as country-made weapons upon being challenged and attempt to carry out criminal/illegal activities, but our troops have been dealing with the issues with great restraint and adherence to the non-lethal policy that has been mutually agreed upon by both countries," he said.
Another officer said that they keep watch on cattle smugglers with the help of a strong network of informers and technology. Cattle smuggling was the biggest menace in eastern borders but all frontiers of BSF are putting their all efforts to bring the figures of seizures to zero by increasing patrolling and sensitizing locals to help BSF and police in identifying cattle smugglers.
As per the data, the maximum reduction was seen in the South Bengal frontier where 1,760 cattle recoveries were made in the year 2021 as compared to 5,704 in 2020. From the year 2022 till July only 531 recoveries have been done. In the North Bengal frontier, 6,298 recoveries were done in the year 2020 as compared to 5,680 in 2021. This year only 2,131 recoveries were made till July 31.
India and Bangladesh share a 4,095 km (including 1,116 km of riverine) border, and half of this is along West Bengal. In other parts, Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura encircle Bangladesh.
"Cases of smuggling">cattle smuggling are common at Eastern borders because of the high demand for meat and hide in Bangladesh. The illegal trade's worth was estimated at hundreds of crores of rupees. But things have drastically changed and the illegal trade has been stopped," said another BSF officer.
He added that the cattle they recovered during raids are sent to cow shelters with the help of local police. But smugglers transport cattle to borders from others states in pathetic conditions and use rivers to transport them to Bangladesh by using banana shoots to keep them afloat and tying explosives around them. But BSF has motor boats for patrolling and keeping watch on smugglers.
Although, the Tripura, Mizoram and Cachar frontier have seen a marginal rise in cases of cattle recoveries as compared to the previous year. In 2020, BSF Mizoram and Cachar frontier recovered 135 cattle and in the year 2021, 344 recoveries were done. And similar was the case in the BSF Tripura frontier where 2,424 recoveries were made in the year 2020 as compared to 2276 in the year 2021.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and ED are conducting parallel probes into the alleged involvement of several Border Security Force (BSF), customs and police officers, smugglers and politicians in cattle smuggling along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border.