India's paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) has confirmed the acquisition of Israeli-made equipment to curb such incidents on the country’s 4,156km-long (2,582-mile-long) border with Bangladesh.
These include tethered drones, thermal imaging cameras, Electro Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensors (used for military or law enforcement applications) underwater and underground sensors, as well as pan–tilt–zoom (PTZ) cameras.
The Indo-Bangladesh border is the fifth longest in the world and spans five Indian states – Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, and West Bengal.
The Israeli-tethered drones, each worth about $52,000, are equipped with day and night vision cameras that capture images over a two-kilometre distance and from a height of 150 metres.
They are used to capture images of cattle smugglers crossing the border between both countries.
Having aerial surveillance from a sufficient height offers a distinct advantage, as they are not affected by high winds and also get continuous power supply, a BSF officer said.
He further stated that patrolling the Indo-Bangladesh border at some points is difficult because of the vast sand bars (submerged or partly exposed ridges of sand or coarse sediment created by water) and several river channels, especially during the monsoon season.
The objective is to send out a message of deterrence, even though smugglers are aware that they are under constant watch, the officer said.
To counter the aggressive surveillance mounted by border forces, smugglers have adopted strategies like blending in with the local population, deploying Indian villagers to carry out smuggling operations, and paying people to act as lookouts.
In the recent past, smugglers have been arrested while sneaking cattle through culverts located under border roads and tying the animals on plantain trunks and setting them afloat on rivers and streams.
Using hollow papaya stems as snorkels to breathe underwater, they also guide cattle across the border.
Last year, the Indian government launched a smart-fencing Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) project along the Indo-Bangladesh border in the Dhubri district of Assam State.
The project, inspired by Israeli technology, entails installing technical and electronic systems along the unfenced riverine area of Lower Assam.
A data network of the riverine border separating both countries is generated and managed by microwave communication, optical fibre cables, digital mobile radio (DMR) communication, day and night surveillance cameras and border protection radar systems.
Seized cattle are offered up for public auction under strict scrutiny to stop cattle smugglers from reclaiming them.