BSF Jawan, Anisur Rehman, sustained grievous injuries as cattle smugglers attacked him with bombs at the Angrail border on July 11
West Bengal/ Report
Cattle Smugglers attack BSF Jawan; wound him severely
Incidents of violence by cattle smugglers severely injured a BSF Jawan at the Indo-Bangladesh border near Bangaon
Debjani Bhattacharya, Kolkata
TheIndo-bangladesh border is known to be notorious for illegal trafficking of human beings, cattle, narcotics, fake currency, gold smuggling and last but not least, infiltration of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Each cattle smuggled into Bangladesh is reported to be sold at around Rs 1,00,000 in Bangladesh as against a mere Rs 50,000 in India, a gain of approximately double its price. However, as NDA Government tried to impose stricter supervision upon cattle smuggling after 2014, cattle smugglers took to other routes such as through the Brahmaputra river from Dhubri in Assam and also via Tripura. The volume of illegal business had reduced as cattle-smuggling through Bengal-border had been curbed to a significant extent in the NDA regime.
However, as a result of NDA Government’s action to curb cattle-smuggling through Indo-Bangladesh border, Bangladeshi smugglers and Border Security Force (BSF) Jawans are often locked in armed confrontations during cross-border smuggling activities on the border.
Two years ago, BSF’s commanding officer Deepak Kumar Mandal was attacked by cattle smugglers in Tripura's Sipahijala district. As a result, the officer succumbed to his injuries in Kolkata on October 2017. Similarly, another BSF Jawan, Anisur Rehman, suffered grievous injuries as cattle smugglers at Angrail border under Gaighata PS near Bangaon attacked him with bombs in the very early morning, on July 11. He lost his hand as a group of 25 Bangladeshi cattle smugglers equipped with country-made bombs, sharp-edged weapons, sticks, high beam torches attacked him. As reported by BSF, some members of the group were found to be Indians.
Smugglers shone blinding light of the torch into his eyes when Anisur Rehman first fired from his non-lethal Pump Action Gun in the direction of the smugglers. They dropped two bombs at him during which he suffered impact pellet injuries to his lungs, liver and stomach. BSF issued an alert to their Bangladesh counterparts, the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) to intercept the criminals on their side.
According to the BSF, the smugglers entered 200 metres deep into the Indian territory to smuggle cattle into Bangladesh with the assistance of local Indians. They hurled two bombs at the Jawan and injured him severely, but the jawan fired a round from his PAG before he fell unconscious. Reinforcement troops arrived to take control of the situation while the Jawan was shifted to Bangaon Government Hospital where his right hand had to be amputated. BSF reported that the smugglers managed to flee into Bangladesh as it was pitch dark at that time and the area was densely covered by long grass and thick vegetation. BSF reported a smuggler too had been injured by the Jawan but managed to escape.
After this attack, BSF directed all its operational units in South Bengal frontier area to take an aggressive pose and thwart the sinister plans of the criminals. BSF is aggrieved that they meet with such attacks quite frequently. Unless this incident is taken seriously and justice done by providing the forces with better security arrangements, they might go ahead with their agitation, reported BSF.
Apart from Bangaon, Basirhat in South Bengal is the other infamous frontier for cattle smuggling and other cross-border criminal activities including infiltration. In the past few years, during the NDA regime, cross-border cattle smuggling had drastically reduced, resulting in a sharp rise in beef price in Bangladesh. As reported by Economic Times, nearly 17 lakh cows were transported across the Bangladesh border in 2014 which came down to less than a lakh till until last year. This statistics is in congruence with the fact that Basirhat saw serious communal tension in 2017 based apparently on a mere Facebook post by a teenager. However, the real reason could likely be the downfall in cattle smuggling business under NDA as their cattle-smuggling economy reportedly feed around 30,000 people in the area.
Apart from cross-border trafficking of several items, West Bengal-Bangladesh border is also infamous for relentless infiltration of illegal Bangladeshis into India. Sandeshkhali, a riverside bordering Assembly Constituency under Basirhat, came into prominence in the recent past when after the latest LS Election result, in which Trinamool Congress won Basirhat, a number of BJP men of Sandeshkhali belonging to Hindu community was brutally murdered allegedly by the men of Sheikh Shahjahan. Sheikh Shahjahan of TMC is known to be the political muscleman & the de-facto ruler of Sandeshkhali. It was alleged that Sheikh Shahjahan’s gang consisted of Rohingyas who were armed with AK 47 & attacked BJP men named Pradip Mondal, Sukanta Mondal and a few others. West Bengal State Police under Mamata Banerjee remained a mute spectator of the brutal massacre. Members of Mondal family lamented that Sheikh Shahjahan’s men came along with the State Police to threaten them. The brutal killing and the post-poll violence in Sandeshkhali was reported to have resulted in the exodus of Hindu families from there. This also resulted in facilitating land-capture at Sandeshkhali by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh as the neighbouring country is just a little distance away across the river from there. The riverine border between West Bengal and Bangladesh at Sandeshkhali is highly porous & Rohingyas too are known to have entered South Bengal through this route itself. Sheikh Shahjahan was also reported to be the key person to facilitate entry of Rohingyas into South Bengal.
During the NDA regime, cross-border cattle smuggling had drastically reduced, resulting in a sharp rise in beef price in Bangladesh. As reported by Economic Times, nearly 17 lakh cows were transported across Bangladesh border in 2014 which came down to less than a lakh till until last year
BJP demanded NIA probe into the grave incident of Sandeshkhali. Locals thereof demanded immediate arrest of Sheikh Shahjahan and lodged an FIR against him in Nazat Police Station. However, Shahjahan, reportedly being a cross-border criminal, is known to have moved back to Bangladesh crossing the international border and thereby frustrating the Indian force to catch hold of him. Sandeshkhali incident is grave enough to draw the attention of both the Indian and Bangladesh Governments. The issue may require bi-lateral intervention to be solved.
Sandeshkhali incident, as well as the attacks on BSF Jawans at the Indo-Bangladesh border, expose the security lapses on our Eastern border. In spite of the 4096 km long Indo-Bangladesh international border, of which WB-Bangladesh border is as much as 2216.7 km long, there are serious security threats along this huge international border.
Newly-elected MP from Bengaluru, Tejaswi Surya of BJP, mentioned the presence of a huge number of Bangladeshi immigrants in Karnataka. He has demanded an NRC for the State, Karnataka. Illegal immigrants from Bangladesh enter India through India’s eastern border as it seriously lacks necessary security arrangements. Efforts at securing the Western border of India may be futile by keeping the Eastern border so porous, vulnerable and under-protected. n