Cattle smuggling has been a lucrative form of illegal trade along the India-Bangladesh border and becomes particularly prolific as the festival of Eid comes closer. However, there has been a sharp fall in the number of cattle illegally smuggled to Bangladesh from India.
Data revealed last month at an inter-ministerial meeting in Bangladesh chaired by minister Ashraf Ali Khan says that the cattle smuggling along the 4096-km India-Bangladesh border has come down by over 96 per cent.
Due to the persistent efforts of the BSF along the border, and due to the self-sufficiency in meat production attained by Bangladesh, the cattle imports and the illegal entry of sacrificial animals from neighbouring India and Myanmar have dropped considerably, confirmed officials in Bangladesh.
Cattle smuggling has dropped almost by half since 2016. Detailed figures reveal that in 2016 about 1,28,440 cattle heads were seized, while the figure dropped to 83,378 in 2017 and 51,592 cattle heads in 2018.
Moreover, earlier, the number of illegal entry of Indian cows was 2.4 to 2.5 million annually, however, reportedly, only 92,000 cows had entered Bangladesh in 2018.
The effective crackdown on cattle trade in the country is believed to have affected this illegal trade. Nevertheless, this vicious cycle of cross-border cattle smuggling along the India-Bangladesh border has snowballed into a major challenge for the BSF which always remains on the receiving end.
Last month, in one of the cruellest method of cow smuggling, the BSF had recovered cows with IED (improvised explosive devices) tied around their necks. The IEDs were allegedly aimed at the BSF troops who would try to intercept the cow smuggling and catch the smugglers. A fortnight prior to this, a BSF jawan had lost his hand after cattle smugglers from Bangladesh hurled bombs at him.
However, the border districts of West Bengal are only the portals of the illegal trade to Bangladesh. Cattle smuggled through all over the country reportedly are smuggled through the porous India-Bangladesh border in Bengal and other eastern states. The five districts Bengal from Sunderbans to Malda, spanning over 915 km of Indo-Bangladesh border, see most of the smuggling.
In a similar incident, two Muslim cow smugglers had mowed down a police constable, Prakash Meshram and injured two others after they tried to stop these cattle smugglers near Warora in Maharashtra earlier this year.