FROM A CORRESPONDENT
NEW DELHI, April 20: In a development that can certainly set alarm bells ringing for Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his counterparts of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and West Bengal, the smuggling of arms and cattle have been increasing along the India-Bangladesh border.
Statistics compiled by the Union Home Ministry have revealed that lakhs of cattle heads and large numbers of weapons were seized from along the India-Bangladesh border in 2016.
Though the Home Ministry’s statistics in possession with The Sentinel did not mention the name of sectors from where smuggling is taking place, it revealed that the numbers have tremendously increased in comparison to the previous two years.
The revelation can certainly keep the border guarding agencies on their toes. The BJP-led government at the Centre has been taking several steps to stop cow smuggling. Some BJP-ruled State governments have also announced stringent action against people found involved in illegal cattle business.
Both India and Bangladesh share a 4,096 km long international border. Of this, Assam shares 262 km, Tripura 856 km, Mizoram 180 km, Meghalaya 443 km and West Bengal shares 2,217 km of its border with Bangladesh.
According to the government statistics, 1,68,801 cattle heads were seized from the India-Bangladesh border in 2016, whereas 1,53,602 were seized in 2015 and 1,09,999 seized in 2014. As many as 1,661 people were also arrested for their involvement in cow smuggling during the same period by the border guarding agencies.
As many as 75 weapons were seized by the security agencies in 2016. Similarly, 72 weapons were seized in 2015 and 60 were seized in 2014; 108 people were also arrested in this connection.
Such smuggling has been taking place in spite of the fact that the Central government has adopted a multi-pronged approach for security arrangements at the borders to curb smuggling and infiltration.
The arrangements include deployment of Border Guarding Force (BGF), construction of border fence, construction of border roads, installation of floodlights, construction of Border Outposts (BOPs), introduction of hi-tech surveillance equipments, and providing advanced weapons and specialized vehicles to security forces among others.