New Delhi,October 5 (Reuters): Indian border guards are struggling to prevent cows from being smuggled into Bagladesh and Rohingyas coming into India from Bangladesh through the 2216 km long India-Bangladesh border.
The Border Security force (BSF) is under strict instructions to prevent smuggling of the holy cow and to see that no Rohingya enters the country.
While the cows are being controlled with the use of sticks and ropes, “chilli and stun grenades” are used to prevent the entry of Rohingyas But the border guards say it is difficult to do both tasks simultaneously.
“It’s hard to stop cows and human beings at the same time,” a senior official of the BSF, which has about 30,000 troops patrolling the frontier with Bangladesh, said in New Delh..
“The collective duty to seize cattle and push Rohingyas is having a negative impact on the morale of our troops,” added the official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorzsed to speak to the media.
“We have conveyed this message to the top government officials.”
He was one of four senior officials who told Reuters that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government must decide which task should get priority.
An official of the Indian home ministry told Reuters the authorities were working to tackle the concerns of the border guards, who have been successful in blocking entry of the Rohingya.
India wants to deport about 40,000 Rohingya refugees who arrived in previous years, calling them a threat to national security, despite an outcry from rights groups.
Since the violence in Myanmar, there has been a sudden rise in the number of cattle coming from India, said traders in Bangladesh, which considers the border trade legal.
“There are fewer obstacles to getting cattle from India right now,” said Rabiul Alam, secretary of the Bangladesh Meat Traders’ Association, which has about 1,000 members.
In July, India’s top court suspended a government ban on the trade of cattle for slaughter, affecting its meat and leather industries, worth more than $16 billion in annual sales, and run mostly by members of the Muslim minority.
The slaughter of cows was already banned in most parts of India, but Hindu hardliners and cow vigilante groups have been increasingly asserting themselves since Modi’s government came to power in 2014.
But stopping the cattle smugglers is not easy.
At least 400 border guards have been injured and six killed in such operations since 2015, BSF figures show.
The guards often have to wade through fields and ponds, wielding bamboo sticks and ropes to deter smugglers and round up the cattle.
“Injuries to guards is almost a routine affair now,” said RP Singh, a BSF official in West Bengal state, which shares a 2,216 km (1,375 mile) border with Bangladesh.
(The featured image at the top shows a BSF trooper rounding up cattle which were being smuggled to Bangladesh)