BSF DG Slashes IPS Officers Involved In Cattle Smuggling on Bangla Border
| Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief, IOP, Kolkata - 29 Jan 2019

BSF DG Slashes IPS Officers Involved In

Cattle Smuggling on Bangla Border

By Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief, Indian Observer Post

Kolkata, January 29, 2019: Rajni Kant Misra, the new BSF Director General has shunted out a large number of officers, including those in the rank of Inspector-General for their alleged involvement in cattle smuggling in the border states of West Bengal and Tripura. According to sources, these are “indirectly” linked to the exit of CBI Director Alok Verma who was alleged by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to have “helped” a nexus of BSF officers and cattle smugglers. These allegations were part of the charges that CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana made in a letter to the CVC Chairman K V Chowdary last year.

Investigations and inquiries with senior government sources have revealed some top former BSF and Intelligence Bureau officers to being involved in cattle smuggling on the India-Bangladesh border. It is said that these senior officers, all belonging to the Indian Police Service (IPS), “offered” an illegal gratification of Rs 3 crore (Rs 3,00,00,000) to Verma, which the then CBI chief turned down, part of the information revealed by Jibu D Mathew, a former commandant of the border guarding force’s 83 Battalion, then posted in Roshanbagh (Murshidabad, West Bengal), according to a report published in the southasianmonitor.com.

According to Sanjiv Krishan Sood, Rtd. Addl. DG, “Claims as such regarding cattle smuggling must be confirmed with substantial evidence before believing in them with absolute punctuality, as pointed out by the leader of opposition Mallikarjun Kharge. We cannot confirm such issues by raising controversies on the topic.”

According to a senior IPS officer closely related to the BSF, “We are trying to control the issue of cattle smuggling in the border regions. Effective border denomination plans must be devised and the present situation will observe definite improvement. At the same time, local laws governing cattle movement must be strengthened for which the entry points need to be controlled.”

The senior officer also mentioned that the several trucks carrying cattle are sometimes not stopped there, and the BSF is blamed for not being stringent enough. “Responsibility must come from all levels of administration. The BSF also has a lot of responsibility over this problem, and we will do our best to control it in future,” he said.

The high-powered committee comprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and Chief Justice of India’s nominee Justice A K Sikri is aware of the decisions taken by the DG, BSF. However, according to committee member and leader of opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, “As the Supreme Court has held, mere allegations or circumstantial evidence cannot be the basis for finding a person guilty”.

Government sources said that when Verma did not relent, these senior BSF and IB officers allegedly approached Asthana who subsequently complained to the CVC. Mathew’s case was taken up by the CBI when the investigating agency arrested him on January 31, 2018. He was traveling by train to his native Kerala stashed with about Rs 45,00,000 in cash which, on interrogation, was found to be the proceeds of bribes that he took from cattle smugglers in Roshanbagh, his area of jurisdiction.

Later sources revealed that Mathew was found to have been in regular touch with Bishu Shaikh, a notorious cattle, drugs and arms smuggler hailing from Kolkata.

There have unconfirmed reports that even before Misra took charge of the BSF in October 2018, a powerful central government minister’s son has been a beneficiary of the “massive cattle smuggling ring”. He is a legislator from an Uttar Pradesh district close to Delhi, one of eight or nine Indian states from where cattle are smuggled out to Bangladesh via West Bengal and Tripura.

Senior BSF officers admitted that IPS officers of the rank of IG and even some cadre officers have been beneficiaries of cattle smuggling, largely in the South Bengal and Tripura frontiers. At least four IG rank officers of the BSF, all of whom served in either West Bengal or Tripura between 2016 and 2018, were quietly transferred out and given non-operational duties following the revelation of names by Mathew.

One of the DIGs who was “deeply involved in encouraging cattle smuggling”, took voluntary retirement soon after Mathew’s arrest and the divulging of information. He has since immigrated to Canada.

According to Home Ministry sources, cattle smuggling has gone up manifold since the BJP government at the Centre after assuming power in 2014 banned the slaughter of cows and bulls across several north Indian states. The ban gave a fillip to multi-state smuggling rings as the number of cattle heads smuggled into Bangladesh more than quadrupled.

Sources in Bangladesh’s Narcotics Control Department, which is quite active along the country’s border areas with India and Myanmar, said that there were occasions when they found instances of connivance of BSF officers and jawans in smuggling of drugs and other addictive products, besides gold. While addictive substances reached Bangladesh border districts via the Indian Border States, the flow of gold was in the opposite direction.

Interestingly enough, while cattle smuggling is “alive and kicking”, there is not a mention of it in the Home Ministry’s 2017-2018 Annual Report.

“None of this would be put down in reports, though often times we could convey our concerns and share intelligence verbally, especially during the sector-level meeting of officers from the BSF and the Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB),” a Bangladeshi officer said.

(DIDHITI GHOSH is a psychologist, journalist, script-writer, professor and a certified conference interpreter of the Spanish language. She is the Bureau Chief of INDIAN OBSERVER POST based in Kolkata. Contact: didhiti.24@gmail.com).

Photo courtesy - BSF Facebook Page 


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