Indian border forces kill two suspected Bangladeshi cattle smugglers; incident highlights lucrative cattle smuggling issue
Two Bangladeshi nationals were shot dead by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) along the northern India-Bangladesh border in an incident in which the BSF said it foiled a cattle smuggling bid
Two Bangladeshi nationals were shot dead by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) along the northern India-Bangladesh border in an incident in which the BSF said it foiled a cattle smuggling bid. The issue of border killings is one of the most contentious issues between the two countries.
The incident took place in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district which borders Lalmonirhat district in Bangladesh. A report in a Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star, identified the deceased as Idris Ali (30) and Bhasani Mia (32), both residents of Lalmonirhat district.
In a statement on Friday, the BSF said that at around 3:00 a.m. when "miscreants from Bangladesh side ventured into the Indian territory and tried to smuggle cattle heads by establishing improvised bamboo cantilever." It further added one of their soldiers was also injured in the incident and was later evacuated to a hospital.
The BSF spokesperson said the soldiers asked the Bangladeshi to go back but they did not pay heed.
"BSF troops utilized non-lethal munition to deter the miscreants, but they attacked on the troops with iron dah and sticks. Sensing an imminent threat to the life, the BSF party fired in (the) air towards miscreants," the statement added. The bodies of two miscreants were later found during the search operation, he added.
Bangladesh is yet to release an official statement confirming the identities of the deceased.
However, The Daily Star, citing locals from the Bangladesh side, claimed the BSF fired on the group of cattle traders, seven to eight in numbers. It also claimed the BSF had informed their local counterpart in the Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB).
The issue of border killings has been a major concern for Bangladesh which has raised it with New Delhi from time to time. In 2020, around 45 people--the highest in the decade--were either killed or tortured leading to death by the BSF, according to a report in Dhaka Tribune.
In December last year, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momin described the border killings as a “stain in the relationship between Bangladesh and India.”
Later in March this year, during his visit to Bangladesh, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishakar linked these killings to border crime. “What is called ‘border killing’ actually takes place fairly deep inside India,” he said.
Regretting the deaths, he further added that the two nations had a “shared objective” in stopping these crimes.
Cattle smuggling is rife - and lucrative - between India and Bangladesh with local elites on both sides said to be actively involved, sometimes allegedly with the connivance of the border forces on both sides. Since cow slaughter is banned in India, and beef is much in demand in Bangladesh, cattle mafias thrive on the border smuggling which involves hundreds of thousands of cattle every year.