Cattle smugglers along Bangladesh border switching to narcotics, fears BSF
Border Security Force (BSF) crackdown on cattle smugglers along the India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal may have forced them to switch to smuggling of narcotics, especially Yaba tablets, over the past one year, fear officials.
“We managed to bring down cattle smuggling by more than 80% in 2019. But now it seems the smugglers have switched to the narcotics trade, with Yaba being the main product. It started in 2019 and has shot up manifold,” said YB Khurania, inspector general, BSF south Bengal frontier.
A mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine and sold as red or pink pills, Yaba originated in Myanmar and entered Bangladesh black market in early 2000 and gained instant popularity due to the paucity of such stimulants locally. The fact that it was cheap, also helped.
“While in 2018, not a single consignment of this drug was seized, in 2019, BSF seized 42,023 Yaba tablets. In the first three weeks of January 2020 we have already seized 10,000 such tabs,” said Khurania.
Incidents of cattle smuggling, which was once rampant along the 923 km international border in south Bengal, has dropped on the other hand.
In 2018, about 40,000 cattle were seized by BSF. In 2019, the number dropped to about 31,000. Till January 25, only 1301 cattle have been seized.
“Earlier, we used to focus on areas along the international border only. But now we have moved further inland, by about 12 km,” a senior BSF official said explaining how they have outsmarted Smugglers who used to force the herds into the border rivers from jetties located in villages 10 –12 km away from the border. “We have identified all these routes,” the officer requesting anonymity added.
He said rehabilitation instead of auctioning the seized cattle has ensured that it remains out of bounds for the smugglers.
“All the cattle seized in January 2020 will go off the smugglers’ supply chain and this is a huge blow to them,” the officer quoted above said.
BSF officials said drug smuggling is much easier as the consignments are simply thrown across the fence from the other side. There are villages all along the border, 60% of which is still unfenced.