Cattle smugglers keep buying auctioned cattle seized along India Bangladesh border, reveals parliamentary panel report
Cattle seized by Border Security Forces along India -Bangladesh Border (IBB) and auctioned by Custom authorities find their way back to the cattle smugglers. This was revealed in a report of the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs. The report titled "Border Scurity: Capacity Building of Institutions" reveals that the auction of seized cattle by Customs officials is misused by the cattle smugglers who keep buying the auctioned cattle again and again. The report was presented to both the Houses of parliament on April 11.
Extract of the Report :
2.6.1 When the Committee sought to know the primary reasons for proliferation of cattle smuggling along IBB, the Ministry replied that following factors are attributed to cattle smuggling:
(i) Densely populated areas and presence of nearly 300 villages within 150 yards of the International Boundary.
(ii) The cattle seized by the BSF are handed over to the Custom authorities who dispose them of by auction and very often the cattle so auctioned find their way back to the smugglers.
(iii) A section of local population in the bordering districts is deeply entrenched in smuggling activities.
2.6.2 The Ministry articulated that no authentic figures were available about the number of cattle being smuggled out of India. It, however, provided the following details of cattle seized by the BSF during the period 2012 to 2015:-
|YEAR||CATTLE SEIZED BY BSF|
|2016 (UPTO October )||1,46,967|
2.6.3 The Ministry also informed that cattle smugglers and their agents from Haryana, Rajasthan, MP, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar & WB and local carriers are the main perpetrators and some section of the border population also finds smuggling a source of livelihood. The most affected areas of cattle smuggling are Nadia, Murshidabad, Malda, Dakshin Dinajpur, Uttar Dinajpur, Raiganj, Silliguri in the State of West Bengal and Dhubri in Assam.
2.6.4 The Committee also discussed the issue of cattle smuggling in its meeting held in Kolkata during its study visit to IBB. BSF representative asserted that no restriction of cattle movement upto haats in border areas, inadequate legal deterrence, adoptionof non-lethal strategy along IBB and no provision to send the seized cattles back to hinterland are other major reasons for proliferation of this illegal activity.
He informed that BSF had taken several measures like use of fast patrolling boats in riverine areas, augmentation of strength at vulnerable areas, construction of ditch in fenced or unfenced patches along border, strengthening of existing fences with GI pipes, intensified day and night patrolling, joint and special operations with sister agencies, and use of advanced surveillance equipment and intruder alarms systems.
2.6.5 The Chief Secretary, West Bengal Government informed the Committee that there were 15 cattle haats situated within 8 km from IBB that were very old and were sanctioned long time ago. A haat in Murshidabad had been shifted while steps were being taken to shift the others.
2.6.6 The Committee is distressed to note that despite several measures taken by the BSF the problem of cattle smuggling persists along IBB. The Committee is particularly anguished to note that the West Bengal State Government has failed to implement its own order dated 01.09.2003 that outlaws existence of any cattle haats within 8 km of border area. The Committee recommends that the State Government of West Bengal should take steps to cancel the licenses of all cattle haats that are illegally functioning within 8 km of border area and hold the officials responsible for illegally issuing/renewing licenses to these haats. The Committee also recommends that mass movement and trading of cattle should be prohibited within 15 km of the border and steps may be initiated to move all cattle haats located within 15 km of the border to the hinterland.
2.6.7 The Committee notes that the auction of seized cattle by Customs officials is misused by the cattle smugglers who keep buying the auctioned cattle again and again. The Committee, in this regard, recommends that auctioning of seized cattle must be banned in the states bordering IBB and Customs Department may be requested to arrange for transportation of the seized cattle to states other than the border states and hold auctions there. The Committee also recommends that the Ministry must pursue the Customs Department to raise the minimum bench mark price of the seized cattle to prevent their re-selling to the persons involved in smuggling of cattle and also make it mandatory for cattle auctioneers to submit their Pan Card and Aadhaar Card details while bidding.
2.6.8 The Committee also learnt about the involvement of the local people living near the border in cattle smuggling and feels that lack of any legal deterrence and ineffective law enforcement seem to have emboldened such persons. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the West Bengal State Government should be requested to take strict action against persons who are known or suspected to be involved in cattle smuggling.
2.6.9 The Committee agrees that mass movement of cattle occurs from all the states towards West Bengal and Assam and once they reach the border areas it becomes extremely difficult to stop their movement across the border. The Committee feels that Police forces of various States have failed to stop this mass movement of cattle to border states and West Bengal Police has failed to intercept or stop the movement of the cattle. The Committee feels that there is a wide and deeply entrenched nexus due to which this menace has proliferated and the Government needs to strike at the roots of this nexus if it has to completely curb this problem.