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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

BSF ties up with NGOs to check cattle smuggling to Bangladesh

Data of last seven years shows 2018 was a turning point when cattle seizures dropped almost 50 per cent to 63,716 compared with 1,19,299 in 2017. The numbers dropped sharply over the last two years: 46,809 in 2019 and 20,415 in 2021.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: January 3, 2022 10:22:14 am
Home Ministry data show that in 4 years, cattle seizure dropped to a sixth.

In what indicates that cattle smuggling from India to Bangladesh has been effective tackled, cattle seizures along the eastern borders have dropped sharply over the past few years. Latest data available with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) shows that cattle seizures by the Border Security Force (BSF) on the Bangladesh border were just 20,415 till November 2021 compared with 1,53,602 in 2015.

Data of last seven years shows 2018 was a turning point when cattle seizures dropped almost 50 per cent to 63,716 compared with 1,19,299 in 2017. The numbers dropped sharply over the last two years: 46,809 in 2019 and 20,415 in 2021.

Since it gained power in May 2014, the BJP-led government has put a special focus on protection of cows and countering cattle smuggling.

In 2015, addressing BSF personnel at a border outpost in West Bengal, then Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said he wanted the force to crackdown on cattle smuggling so severely that Bangladesh would quit eating beef.

Since then, the force has deployed extra personnel to round-the-clock monitor the border and stop cattle smuggling. It has acquired more speedboats to chase smugglers transporting cattle through the rivers. It has also taken coercive action through lethal and non-lethal weapon firing on such trans-border criminals. Last year, in an official statement, the BSF called cattle smuggling an act of “sedition”.

Sources in the BSF, however, said there were other reasons for the sharp drop in cattle seizures. “Earlier, after we seized cattle, it was handed over to customs authorities who auctioned them. The auctioned cattle would most often be bought by the same smugglers who brought them back to the border. This pushed up seizure numbers,” a senior BSF officer explained.

In 2018, such auctions were stopped. “Local police were supposed to take possession of seized cattle, but they did not cooperate. So, the BSF took care of the seized cattle with the help of some NGOs and then gave them away to cow shelters. BSF has had to bear expenses, but this brought down seizure numbers,” the officer explained.

Sources said other factors include Bangladesh increasing its own dairy capacity over the years and developments in the hinterland which restricted transportation of cattle to the border. “The Haryana breed of cows are hardly seized at the border now. But those from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are still turning up. If state governments act, BSF will not have to do this job,” another BSF officer said.

The drop in cattle seizures has also coincided with the drop in attacks on BSF personnel by smugglers. From 103 injuries to BSF personnel in 2015, the figure has dropped to just 63 in 2021. This, however, does not mean any less effort in active interception by the border guarding force. Data shows that firing of lethal and non-lethal weapons by the BSF has remained consistent during this period.

According to the data, there were 219 incidents of lethal weapon firing involving the BSF on Bangladesh border in 2015, which has now increased to 244 in 2021. In fact, this was below 200 in only two years: 2017 (139) and 2018 (77). The year 2016 saw maximum lethal weapon firing incidents at 355.

Similarly, firing of pump action or pellet guns, which the BSF uses to deter cross-border criminals, has also remained consistent during the period.

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