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Cattle smugglers, engaged in the $600 million annual slaughter business are making hay while India’s border guards are busy checking the influx of Rohingyas from Bangladesh.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian government has directed the Border Security Force (BSF) to deploy maximum resources in checking the influx of Rohingya refugees as the intelligence agencies have warned that local criminals and touts were assisting the refugees to illegally cross over to the Indian side from Bangladesh. This has resulted in an atmosphere conducive for smugglers to carry out their business without much fear of being caught.
In the Siliguri corridor, the central node that connects India to Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal, cattle smuggling has grown manifold since the Rohingya crisis intensified.
A local trader in a Siliguri market that is merely 10 minutes drive from Bangladesh border describes the situation as grave. “In the cattle fair that is held every Tuesday, locals sell their cattle to traders who in turn sell them illegally across the border to Bangladesh. Earlier, the number of cattle smuggled to the other side of the border used to be limited to a couple of hundreds. But over the last few weeks, the number has increased to thousands. Cattle theft too has increased. This is a serious law and order situation” Suman Pradhan, a local trader told Sputnik.
"There are fewer obstacles in getting cattle from India right now," says Rabiul Alam, secretary of the Bangladesh Meat Traders' Association confirming Pradhan’s claims.
The Bangladesh border has been notorious for illegal cattle smuggling. But, with the Rohingya crisis snowballing into a major regional security question, border guards are finding it tough to handle the twin task of stopping illegal immigration while keeping a check on criminal activities like smuggling. Checking cattle smuggling has been a major challenge for Indian and Bangladeshi border guards. Since 2015, six Indian security personnel have been killed and more than 400 injured in clashes with smugglers at the Indo-Bangladesh border.
Meanwhile, it is estimated that more than 500000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh in past few months. India has identified 140 vulnerable locations along the 4096 kilometers long Indo-Bangladesh border from where Rohingyas are crossing over to the Indian side. Last month, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs had asked the BSF to use "rude and crude" methods to block the entry of Rohingyas into the Indian Territory.
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