By Rajnish Singh
New Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) Bangladesh wants smuggling of Indian cattle to end as it leads to most killings on the India-Bangladesh border, the head of Dhaka’s border guards has said.
“Bangladesh does not want Indian cattle to be smuggled into our country,” Major General Aziz Ahmed, the Director General of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), said in an interview here.
“We want to get rid of cattle smuggling as most of the border killings take place because of this menace. Both the BGB and BSF (Border Security Force) want to stop it,” Ahmed told IANS.
Ahmed was here to take part in the 43rd Director General-level border dialogue between India and Bangladesh from September 30 to October 4.
The BGB chief said the cattle smuggling was masterminded by individuals who lured poor people to commit the crime for monetary considerations.
In the process, 92-95 per cent of all killings on the winding India-Bangladesh border took place during clashes between the smugglers and the BSF, he said.
According to Indian government data, three BSF troops were killed between January 2015 and October 4 this year while trying to stop cattle smuggling from India to Bangladesh.
This year alone, 25 smugglers — all Bangladeshis — were killed.
Ahmed explained the problems on the ground that allowed the smuggling to go on and on.
“Only 79 per cent of our border with India is covered by barbed fencing. The remaining is in the riverine belt where there is no fencing. So, it is very difficult to stop cattle smuggling,” Ahmed told IANS.
India and Bangladesh share a 4,096 km often porous border. Official data show that some 1,000 km of the border is a riverine belt while 148 villages lie in a narrow strip between the border fence and the international border. Another 137 villages are partially in Bangladesh.
Asked how the cattle is smuggled despite the fencing and deployment of border guards, Ahmed said: “The smuggling is done in groups of several animals through the many rivers Bangladesh shares with India where there is no fencing. It is very difficult to stop it.
“Both BGB and BSF do regular patrolling in such areas but it is still our weak point. Violence occurs when the smugglers take on the BSF.”
Ahmed added: “Cattle smuggling is a big issue but the killing of our people is more serious. Despite good relations between BSF and BGB, such incidents create differences.”
The Bangladesh border guards chief said the killings had come down in recent years but the numbers were still very high.
Asked whether terrorist groups like Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) could take advantage of the border disguised as cattle smugglers, the BGB chief said: “No such incidents have been seen.”
He added that both the BSF and BGB were working with mutual understanding, trust and confidence to solve border issues.
“All the complexities on the border possibly may not be resolved but we have all the good intention to sort out all these things and help each other.”
Citing the Mexico-US border, Ahmed said: “It is the most protected border in the world, but there is still an infiltration problem. We (BSF and BGB) are making sincere efforts to stop infiltration and trans-border crime.”
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)