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Illegal cattle trade at Indo-Bangla border falls drastically

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FT ONLINE

The illegal cattle trade on the India-Bangladesh border during this year’s Eid-ul-Azha season has been reduced by 75% due to strict security measures taken by law-enforcement officials.

The cross-border trafficking of cows has been decreased from 2.2 million a year to 5,00,000 this year. The trade dropped to $250 million from $1.5 billion, which means an approximate fall of $1.2 billion.

During the sacrifice feast of Eid-ul-Azha, Bangladesh consumes 50% of the country’s annual demand by sacrificing around 8.8 million cattle and India has been responsible for meeting a quarter of this demand.

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However, this year the scene has changed with strict vigilance of law-enforcement officials.

With the sustained campaigns conducted by the Border Security Force (BSF), Indian local police and Bangladesh government’s active participation in better border management have ensured the cattle trade restriction.

The Bangladeshi animal husbandry lobby is now working as a pressure group against illegal trade from India. Dhaka has also used this opportunity to encourage local farming of cattle for the past three years.

The cattle market in Savda, a remote town in Maharashtra

Indian cattle traders from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh (UP), and Rajasthan supplied majority of the cattle across the 4,096km land boundary with Bangladesh.

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Approximately 100km from Kolkata, Angrail in North 24-Parganas district which was a hotspot for illegal cattle trade had an average traffic of 5,000 cattle a day which has been brought down to 500 now.

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Hindu cattle traders would drive the cattle across the Ichhamati River, which divides the two countries at Angrail. For these traders their religious identity is an advantage for the trade due to the prohibition of cow slaughter in Hinduism.

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BSF Inspector General (IG) of South Bengal PSR Anjaneyulu said increased highway surveillance has made their job easy.

BSF has strengthened the surveillance and with the emergence of confidence-building measures with the local community, the IG added.

Besides, smugglers being killed in BSF firing initiated a rage among human rights bodies on both sides of the border making the cattle trade a major concern in the border districts.

-SAM

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