The Indian Border Security Force (BSF) officials have informed that the outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus has resulted in a sharp decline in infiltration and smuggling of cattle, gold, marijuana, fake Indian currency notes (FICN) through the porous 2,216.7 km India-Bangladesh border. At the South Bengal frontier, only 371 km is fenced out of the 915 km.
BSF IG South Bengal Frontier YB Khurania said that even though their vigilante surveillance has not been relaxed, infiltration and smuggling across the South Bengal frontier region had reached “a rock bottom level.” Another senior official informed that the fake currency notes that were being thrown at the Indian side of the fence were just photocopies of original currency notes. “We can safely say the high-quality FICN trade has taken a huge hit,” he emphasised.
The BSF has attributed the decline in smuggling to the fear of the Chinese virus, sealed borders with Bangladesh, increased patrolling of the porous region and apprehensions of a pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise. Since the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, only 13 Bangladeshi infiltrators had been captured till April 10. During the same period in 2018 and 2019, the numbers were at staggering 76 and 33 respectively.
While only 35 kg of marijuana has seized so far in 2020, the number of cattle smuggling cases has declined to 45 from 1700. In view of the Coronavirus pandemic, the BSF troopers are now equipped with personal protective gear such as gloves, masks and suits to avoid unwarranted physical contact with smugglers and infiltrators.
Earlier, in an unprecedented move, Bangladesh has closed the operations of Daulatdia, the largest brothel in the country located on the bank of river Padma, amidst the outbreak of coronavirus that has infected 20 people in the Islamic Republic. 1500 sex workers are known to work in the brothel and serve around 5000 customers.
Local Police Chief Ashiqur Rahman was quoted as saying, “The brothel at the Daulatdia was closed temporarily as part of precautions against coronavirus. The sex workers were asked not to allow any visitor until April 5.” He revealed that even though prostitution was illegal in the country, law enforcement authorities never interfered in their operations.