By Shweta Raj Kanwar

Almost every other day, we come across incidents of BSF personnel apprehending cattle smugglers from the highly porous  Indo-Bangladesh border line in Meghalaya. Despite efforts by the Border Security Force (BSF)  to curb cattle smuggling, there seems to be no end to this menace.

It may be noted that India shares a 4096 km (2545 miles) border line with its neighbour Bangladesh. Out of this entire area, Meghalaya comprises of 445 km border area with the country. This highly porous border line provides an easy haven for smugglers to carry out their black trade.  It may also be taken into consideration that Bangladesh has a flourishing export trade with respect to leather and its products, most of it being demanded by the Gulf and South Asian Nations.

Now, tallying the number of arrests made by BSF of cattle smugglers along the border and the flourishing export trade in Bangladesh, one can easily make a guess as to why something concrete is not being done in this regard.  The issue of barbed-wire fencing may have come up time and again but the weighty land dispute issue seems to bury the fencing issue deep down under. Or may be the land issue is only a scape-goat to direct the focus of people from the menace to another unresolved burning matter.

As per a report in an English Daily, the cattle-heads smuggled from India are sold at prices four times higher in Bangladesh and most of the exports are made to  the Gulf and South Asian Nations. It was also reported that if a cattle head is brought in India at around Rs. 10,000, the same would be sold at Rs. 45,000 approximately in Bangladesh.  As per records, BSF apprehended as many as 563 cattle heads in 2014, 2064 cattle heads in 2015 and 1203 cattle heads in 2016 till date. Hence, we see an exponential increase in the numbers over the years.

Clearly, an increase in the number of cattle head smugglers apprehended over the years is directly proportional to the increase in the export trade in Bangladesh. With this unabated rise in the menace, it is but worthy to note that the unchecked smuggling, porous border and a not-so-effective vigil exposes not only Meghalaya but the entire nation to various other allied threats that need no mention to a sensible man.

Yes we know that India and Bangladesh are moving closer towards better relations, but at what cost ? This needs a moment of thought and focused actions on pertaining issues that matter.

shwetarajkanwar@gmail.com

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