The Cow Smuggling Files: Cross border smuggling continues

On May 4, the Enforcement Directorate filed a 204-page supplementary prosecution complaint before a court making startling revelation of the involvement of the Border Security Force and a syndicate that operated in smuggling of cows through a porous border to Bangladesh. The ED found that cow smuggling along the Bangladesh border mostly took place “between 11 PM and 3 A.M. in night after prior setting in connivance with the BSF officials” and a syndicate operated to launder money.  The Central Bureau of Investigation too had arrested a BSF commandant and some traders for their alleged role in the smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh.

 It was time for Tehelka to blow the lid off the scam and the result is our Cover Story “Cow Smuggling Files” that brings out the inside story of the thriving business of cattle smuggling along the Bangladesh border. Tehelka SIT report reveals the nuts and bolts of the thriving business of cattle smuggling along the Bangladesh border. This illegal business is a cash cow which no one wants to take by its horns as it is an industry worth billions of dollars and involves the high and mighty.

 It is not that BSF, hit by bribery allegations, did not make an effort to check the cross border smuggling that has been going on for years, but the scale is too large. In fact some BSF jawans have lost their lives while trying to stop trucks and pickup vans through which cows are transported from various parts of the country including Punjab, Haryana,  Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and other states.

 India and Bangladesh share a 4095 km border that runs through rivers and ponds.  Smugglers tie bundles of logs to animal’s necks to keep them afloat.  There have been instances when smugglers tie socket bombs to the neck of the cows so that an explosion can be triggered when their movement is intercepted.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs report titled “Border Security: Capacity Building and Institutions” admitted that mass movement of cattle occurs from all the states and once it reaches the border areas, it becomes extremely difficult to stop their movement across the border. “  It goes on to state,  “The Committee feels that Police forces of various States have failed to stop this mass movement of cattle to border states”.

Cow vigilantism in such a scenario is no solution because cow vigilantes themselves have become a law unto themselves due to political patronage and police laxity to lynch even innocent members of a minority community.  An affidavit submitted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by Haryana Police claimed that experiment of social boycott of persons accused of cattle smuggling has proved to be pivotal in dealing with the menace. It is for other states to elicit community support to check the menace.