Assam: Cattle Smuggling Continues Unabated Despite Strict Law

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A night super bus that was travelling from the Eastern Assam side and heading toward Meghalaya was stopped early on Saturday morning, as per the official.
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Guwahati: Cattle smuggling seems to have continued in Assam despite tough laws, arrests, and encounters against it. The smugglers are utilising innovative methods to move cattle from one location to another.

In the latest incident, at least 35 smuggled cattle were found inside a passenger bus that was seized by Police in Assam’s Nagaon district on Saturday.

On Friday, based on specific information, the police launched an operation at Missa.

A night super bus that was travelling from the Eastern Assam side and heading toward Meghalaya was stopped early on Saturday morning, as per the official.

However, the driver and conductor fled from the bus. Meanwhile, the police rescued the cattle.

The police has registered a case and an investigation is underway.

Between 2011 and 2019, cattle smuggling rackets along India’s eastern borders operated in the south and north Bengal sectors. Over the past three years, they have moved base to parts of Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura.

Earlier during the severe flood in Assam, taking advantage for cattle smugglers using the unfenced stretch of the India-Bangladesh borders to pump in cattle heads to the neighbouring country ahead of Eid celebrations.

The Border Security Force (BSF) personnel seized over 200 cattle while being smuggled to Bangladesh on boats in Dhubri, South Salmara in West Assam and Coochbehar in neighbouring North Bengal on July 24 and 25.

As per the official figures, in the last one year, Assam Police has registered more than 1100 cases of cattle smuggling cases.

Last year, the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021, was amended in the assembly, empowering the police to enter the house of an accused and inspect, search and seize properties acquired in the last six years with money earned from illegal cattle trade.

Police sources said, “In last one year, state police have arrested 992 cattle smugglers while rescued more than 9454 cattle and seized 417 vehicles.”

Earlier, while amending the Act, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said he wanted to convey the message that Assam is a tough state while dealing with unlawful cattle trade.

On August 13, the assembly had passed The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, banning cattle slaughter and sale of beef in areas where Hindus, Jains and Sikhs are in a majority or within a five-kilometre radius of a temple or satra (Vaishnavite monasteries) or any other institution as maybe prescribed by authorities.

A new section has now been inserted in the Act that empowers an investigating officer to enter, inspect, search, seize and detain an accused and his/her movable or immovable properties accumulated in the previous six years with the income from illegal cattle trade.

Smuggling of cattle is rampant through the India-Bangladesh borders in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and North Bengal. The cattle procured from different parts of the country are smuggled through the borders, which ultimately makes their way to the beef processing and tannery industry in Bangladesh.

According to sources, apart from meeting the local demand for beef, Bangladesh exports a large amount of processed meat to West Asian and Arabian countries.

Meanwhile, as per official, cattle seizures by the Border Security Force (BSF) on the Bangladesh border dropped by 53 per cent in the country to 21,917 in 2021.

Earlier in 2020, it was 46,809. The report shows numbers falling consistently from the last three years as they had plummeted 71 per cent from 77,410 in 2019 to 21,917 in 2021. From the year 2022 till July 31 in the country, only 12,864 seizures of cattle were reported at the Bangladesh border.

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