Kochi: Cow smuggling is a booming business along the Indo-Bangladesh border with the turnover estimated at Rs 20,000 crore a year, courtesy a few corrupt Border Security Force (BSF) officials.
The CBI has unearthed crucial information that could jeopardise the security of the country after the arrest of a Keralite BSF commandant and a smuggler. The arrested smuggler, Muhammed Inamul Haq, told the CBI that the beef ban in north India has pushed smuggling up by 50%.
Earlier, they used to smuggle weapons, drugs and hawala money with cattle as a front. Drugs and other banned materials used to be stuffed in special cloth bags fixed to the bottom part of the animals' bodies to take it across the border.
During this time, they used to fetch Rs 10,000 crore carrying drugs and hawala money. However, with the beef ban, cow smuggling became the biggest money spinner.
The cattle bought from Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh for Rs 2,500 per animal were sold in Bangladesh for Rs 30,000. Since the cost of cattle plummeted post beef ban, the profit went up further.
This has prompted the smuggling mafia to stop dealing in comparatively dangerous materials like weapons and focus only on cattle. It was at this stage that BSF officials started accepting bribes for offering them a smooth passage.
The CBI recovered Rs 47 lakh from the Keralite officer who was arrested in Alappuzha following a tip-off. After Haq too fell into the CBI net, the agency has got information about 18 officers who are on the payroll of smugglers.
Another aftereffect of the rising cattle smuggling in India was the collapse of the dairy industry in Bangladesh, forcing the government there to order its border security guards to stop the smugglers. But the smugglers were given info about porous border areas by the BSF officials.
32 secret centres
• India-Bangladesh border -- 4096km
• The smuggling is concentrated at 32 secret centres in five border states
• The 360km maritime border makes it easy for smugglers to sneak in and out
The Bangla border
The border in km that Bangladesh shares with Indian states
1) Bengal- 2,216
2) Tripura - 856
3) Meghalaya - 443
4) Mizoram - 318
5) Assam - 263