Three alleged Bangladeshi cattle smugglers were shot dead by BSF troops on December 3 and 4 across the international border opposite two outposts in the northern and southern commands of the Indian paramilitary force even as Dhaka has refrained from raking up the killings.
While the ruling Awami League government in Dhaka has chosen not to make any hue and cry over the killings, New Delhi has been tightlipped over the border killings which, in the past, have been a constant sore point between the border guarding forces of the two countries and their respective foreign ministries.
It is reliably learnt that in the first incident on December 3 the BSF opened fire at an alleged Bangladeshi cattle smuggler near border outpost (BOP) R K Wadhawa in West Bengal’s Malda district. BSF sources said that the alleged cattle smuggler died in Bangladeshi territory.
A day later, BSF troops again opened fire in the “general area of BOP Nargaon” under the paramilitary force’s Kishanganj sector headquarter (North Bengal Frontier), killing two alleged cattle smugglers.
Bangladeshi reports accessed by Northeast News revealed that on Monday (December 4), two persons, said to be residents of Geruadangi village under Haripur upazila of Thakurgaon district, died when the BSF opened fire at them.
While these reports did not indicate whether the two persons were cattle smugglers, they were identified as Mokles (age 28), son of Nazrul Islam, and Zahiurul Islam (25), son of Based Ali.
The BSF resorted to firing near the BGB’s Kathaldangi BOP. Mokles’ bullet ridden body was fished out of Shirani river and later sent for autopsy.
Providing details of this incident, BGB Company Commander Entazjul Huq said “a Bangladeshi national was shot by the BSF in Indian territory.
The injured person was moved to a local hospital but died during treatment”. He, however, admitted that the he did not know the reason why the BSF fired at the Bangladeshi national.
Quoting BGB Sector Commander Colonel M H Hafizur Rahman, the reports confirmed the two deaths in BSF firing. “A flag meeting was held and it was decided that the bodies of the Bangladeshi nationals would soon be handed over to us,” the reports quoting Col Hafizur Rahman said.
A third Bangladeshi national, identified as Idris (30) was injured in a BSF shooting near the BGB’s Ratnai BOP. Idris is undergoing treatment, according to reports.
BSF sources suspect that “heightened activities” on the part of cattle smugglers along the force’s Northern and Southern Frontiers in West Bengal is aimed at pushing in greater numbers of these animals to cut down beef prices in poll-bound Bangladesh which is reeling under the burden of high prices of all kinds of meats and other essential food items, including vegetables.
Reports from several sources in Dhaka indicate that beef, which till recently sold for about Taka 800 per kilo was now priced at about Taka 600. This is being attributed to a larger “in-flow” of smuggled cattle from Bangladesh’s frontier areas, including the Naf river along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.
Senior BSF officers, who are aware of the cattle rustlers’ routes along parts of the Naf river, admitted that cattle smuggling rackets continue to operate in full swing from “bases” in parts of Assam, Maghalaya and Tripura. Jowai in Meghalaya and Sitai and Sitalkuchi in Bengal’s Coochbehar (technically in the BSF’s Assam frontier), are the points from where cattle in large numbers are pushed into Bangladesh.