Bangladesh proposes legalisation of cattle trade along border

July 24th, 2008 - 7:40 pm ICT by IANS  


Kolkata, July 24 (IANS) In a bid to reduce incidents of cross-border firing, Bangladesh has proposed to India the introduction of formal cattle trade through the India-Bangladesh border, a top Bangldesh Rifles (BDR) officer said Thursday. “We have given a proposal to the Indian government to introduce formal cattle trade along the Indo-Bangladesh border. The proposal is now pending with both the governments,” Deputy Director General of BDR Brigadier General M.A. Bari told reporters after a four-day joint coordination conference with the Border Security Force (BSF) here.

The proposal aims to legalise the cattle trade between the two neighbouring countries that is the chief cause of cross-border firing.

India and Bangladesh share a 4,095 km border, of which 180 km is riverine.

“Being border guarding agencies, we generally don’t open fire at each other, unless there is any report of cross border activity - like fence breaching, cattle smuggling or human trafficking. When firing takes place on one side of the border, troops sitting on the other side perceive the firing is coming from the enemy side. So they also open fire,” BSF Inspector General (South Bengal) C.V. Murlidhar said.

He said issues like human trafficking, narcotics and cattle smuggling, fake currency smuggling, unprovoked firing, fence breaching and illegal migration through India-Bangladesh border were addressed in the conference which ended Thursday.

Last week, two BDR personnel were killed in firing by the BSF when the former were allegedly trying to facilitate some traffickers smuggling cattle through the riverine border at Nimtita in Murshidabad district.

A BSF jawan was killed and a villager seriously injured in firing between the two forces in Malda Wednesday.

In another incident, the same day, a Bangladeshi national was killed by the BSF at Gede in Nadia district while returning to Bangladesh side with a herd of cattle.

According to BSF sources, cattle smuggling from India is a common problem in the border areas, primarily for beef in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. The smuggling is at its highest during Muslim festivals.

“In some south Bengal districts, like Murshidabad and Malda, the cattle lifters let the cows go to the other side of the fence through the water channel, since a large portion of the riverine border remains extremely porous and unfenced. And the members of the other group take these cattle to their own territory from that side,” a senior BSF official said.

He said: “This type of incidents spark gun-battle if the border guarding personnel find them (the smugglers) near the fenced-off area. There are reports of frequent skirmishes among the troopers of the two sides along the border.”

India prohibits cattle exports, as beef consumption is frowned upon by the country’s majority Hindu population.

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