The cattle smuggling business in West Bengal has got an unexpected twist with central intelligence agencies alerting the West Bengal government that Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) are involved in it.
Both these units are underground ones. While KLO is essentially rooted in Bengal, NDFB operates from Assam.
They are involved in the smuggling that takes place through a narrow stretch in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal.
According to state government sources, they have found out that these two organisations are extracting money from the cattle smugglers, and therefore, have developed a vested interest in keeping the business going.
The Intelligence Branch (IB) of the state police has started a probe in the matter and their initial findings have revealed that an indirect involvement in the illegal business.
Cattle smuggling from India to Bangladesh is a decades-old business that has come under severe crackdown after the BJP government assumed power in 2014. While it was estimated that about 1.7 to 1.8 million cows were smuggled from India to Bangladesh through the porous border in Bengal, it has now come down to a fraction due to heightened vigil by BSF and several saffron vigilante bodies.
Most of the smuggling used to take place through the districts of North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Murshidabad and Malda.
“According to the initial information gathered by the state IB, these two banned outfits are escorting the cattle smugglers with the cattle through this narrow corridor to Bangladesh against an escort charge of Rs 2,000 per cow. Anyone involved with the cattle smuggling racket in the region is subjected to life threats from these two outfits,” a state government official aware of the entire development told HT.
He also said that as per the information exchanged with central agencies and intelligence unit of Assam police, since both KLO and NDFB are facing fund crunch, they are resorting to alternative areas to raise funds.
“The state IB has also got information that the cattle smugglers in north Bengal are themselves quite unhappy with the sudden emergence of KLO and NDFB in the scene, since escort charge of Rs 2,000 per cow is having a negative effect on the profitability of the cattle smugglers. The state IB also has information that the heads of the cattle smuggling rackets are holding regular meetings in north Bengal on how to avoid these two banned outfits,” the state government official said.
In her second term as the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, has taken a strong stand against cattle smuggling and has directed the state police to tackle this menace strongly.