With political leaders sweating it out to garner as much support possible for the ensuing panchayat polls, the question that arises is - whether the newly elected faces will be able to bring an end to infiltration, trafficking and smuggling rackets that operate in the border areas.
“In order to make people aware about traffickers, we take up the issue during our election campaigning,” says Ramen Sardar, Trinamool block president. However, the irony is that where on one hand the leader is claiming to work for women, his party cadres got a groom, who was accused of torturing his wife, released during an election campaigning.
As one enters the police stations in Swarupnagar area, one can see posters crying loud against child trafficking. They also warn parents against treating their children as means to earn money. The district police has a department to prevent human trafficking but it has failed to bore any fruits. With locals living in constant fear, crime rules the roost here in the border area.
“Three months ago, my 15-year-old daughter, who was studying in a school, was taken away by a boy. He promised to marry her. But, now, she has landed up in Pune and the accused is out on bail. I am not sure whether I will be able to see her again,” said Mohammed Jamal Ali, a self-confessed cattle smuggler.
If injustice against women is rampant in the area, smuggling, too, is a cause for concern. Thousands of cattle are taken across the border into Bangladesh where they are slaughtered. “It is far more profitable to smuggle cattle now than it was a few years ago. I used to get Rs 50 per head, but the amount has now increased to Rs 250,” says Jamal Ali.
There are also other items such as beetle, garlic (smuggled from Bangladesh), sugar, spices (smuggled into Bangladesh) which are also smuggled in and out of the country.
In the face of such grim realities, the need of the hour is action and not just mere promises during poll campaigns. “Smuggling and human trafficking are the main problems in our area. I will not deny that many people are involved in smuggling. I have requested the border security force personnel to be more alert. But they have told me that they are not allowed to open fire.
Unless they are empowered to pull the trigger, criminals from Bangladesh will continue to infiltrate here and torture the residents in the border areas,” said Beena Mondal, a local Trinamool Congress MLA.