Soon after the clock strikes midnight, the muddy roads on the Indo-Bangla border, at Sahebkhali in Sundarbans, become busy with trains of cattle being herded on a secret journey culminating in Bangladesh where they will be slaughtered for shipment as processed beef.
The border at Chanralkhali village on the bank of Kalindi River, which separates Bangladesh and India, has been a witness to the smuggling of truckloads of cattle from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for some time now.
Ever since Cyclone Aila devastated the deltas and hit the Border Security Force (BSF) by damaging patrolling boats and breaching embankments and roads, there has been a manifold increase in smuggling aided by hapless villagers.
"A recent spate in smuggling by villagers has put BSF jawans on high alert," says a jawan on duty at the border village, 100 km from Kolkata.
The cyclone has destroyed all means of livelihood for 1.6 lakh people of Hingalganj by damaging houses and rendering fields saline. Sights of devastation are evident everywhere.
BSF jawans say smugglers have taken advantage of the situation by engaging hapless villagers into smuggling cattle, bidi, garments and drugs at night.