The attack on a commanding officer of the Border Security Force (BSF) by a gang of cattle smugglers in Sipahijala district of Tripura on Monday has once again brought to the fore the cross-border crime scenario between India and Bangladesh, with several patches of unfenced border only complicating the task of controlling crimes there. Deepak Kumar Mondal, a second-in-command rank officer who was commanding the BSF’s 145th Battalion in Sipahijala, came under attack of cattle smugglers around 2 am on Monday near the Belardeppa border post, hardly 45 km from Agartala, the state capital, and had to be flown to Kolkata for better treatment. Police meanwhile have arrested one Mamun Mia, said to be a member of the criminal gang which had attacked the BSF officer, with a court sending him to one day’s judicial custody. The police have sought 10 days’ custody of the man, while efforts are on to arrest more members of the gang, official sources said in Agartala on Tuesday.
Mondal was on duty along with his team to check cattle smuggling and other illegal activities that generally take place at the dead of night, saw some cattle smugglers, and tried to stop them with the help of his guard and driver. The smugglers, numbering about 25, who were armed with bricks, lathis and machetes, instead surrounded Mondal’s vehicle and hit him from behind, causing severe injuries to his head and legs.
While the jawan accompanying Monday fired five rounds to scare away the criminals, only after which Mondal was driven off to the nearest camp and provided first aid before being taken to a hospital. The officer, who sustained grievous injury, was later evacuated to Kolkata by air.
It was in March this year that a mob of suspected cross-border criminals had attacked another BSF patrol party near the Indo-Bangladesh border under Sabroom sub-division on South Tripura, following which three persons were killed when the jawans opened fire in self-defence. In July last year, a woman – also suspected to be member of a criminal gang – was killed when a BSF jawan opened fire in Sipahijala district. Villagers however had later complained that the jawan had tried to rape the woman, and had killed her when she tried to protest and raise an alarm.
Tripura shares 856 km of international boundary with Bangladesh, of which several patches totalling about 105 km are yet to be fenced. The government had sanctioned construction of fence for a length of 856.99 km, with the latest annual report of the ministry of home affairs saying 104.99 km fence was yet to be constructed. The areas where the fence is yet to be completed are “heavily populated and cultivated right up to the border,” the MHA annual report said.
While cattle comprises the bulk of smuggling activities across the Indo-Bangladesh border, smuggling of various other contraband items including drugs, ganja, cough syrup and medicine, and other items are also common. According to an MHA report, of the 1.78 lakh cattle that BSF had seized near the Indo-Bangladesh border during 2016 in West Bengal, Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya, Tripura alone accounted for 3,813, which is quite a high figure given the fact that it is a small state. BSF troops had also seized several cartons of Bangladesh-bound cough syrup valued at about Rs 6 crore.
BSF jawans had recently seized 11 cattle, medicine worth about Rs 1.95 lakh and crackers worth about Rs 9 lakh from criminals who tried to smuggle those out to Bangladesh in different districts of Tripura. In March the troops had seized cough syrup worth about Rs 1 crore concealed under fruit cartons from trucks bound for Bangladesh. (ends)