Cattle markets in Kurigram border area are seeing increased trade of illegally imported cows and buffaloes from India. These cattle are being smuggled in via the transboundary rivers shared by the two nations taking advantage of floods.
Although the authorities have warned the upazila administrations to prevent cattle smuggling, local dairy and livestock farmers are worried that they might not get a fair price in a distorted market due to cattle smuggling.
Indian cows and buffaloes are being smuggled inside the country by floating them through Daikhawa, Saheberalga, Narayanpur, Ralakata, Kachakata and several other points of the Brahmaputra and Dudhkumar transboundary rivers in Kurigram every day. Cattle smuggling has increased exponentially in the wake of the floods and Eid-ul-Azha.
At Jatrapur local market, 50 to 60 ad hoc local representatives of the Indian sellers are active in trading cattle and they put up 400-500 Indian calves alongside 200-300 cows and buffaloes every day the market opens.
Smuggled Indian cattle are marked with the initials of the owner before they are floated down the river across the border.
Abdul Quader, a cattle trader of Char Kali said while Indian traders float cows, staff to intercept the cows wait in rafts. “They grab the cows and handover to us.”
“We sell the cattle and send the money back keeping an amount as commission,” he said.
Hafizur Rahman, a cattle trader from Jatrapur, said many cows fail to make it due to the onrush of flood waters.
Vutru Mia, a cattle trader from Chapainawabganj, said the price of Indian cattle is much lower than last year. “The cow that cost Tk 1 lakh last year, is available for Tk 70-80 thousand now.”
That may bring down the price of the local cows as well, below a fair level.
However a representative of the Jatrapur haat lessee claimed that the smuggling has rather decreased, due to tighter security in the border. “The Indian cattle that are being sold were brought from India long ago…local farmers raised and are selling them in the market,” he said, identifying himself as Johnny Sheikh.
BGB forces seized 168 illegally imported cows from Kurigram border areas in June.
BGB 22 Battalion Director Lt. Colonel Md Jamal Hossain said the traffickers had become active because of floods prior to Eid-ul-Azha.
“Due to the floods, it is not possible for the BSF and BGB to stay in posts all the time…however, the BGB has taken a strict stand against cattle smuggling. Patrols along the river have been intensified and cows are being detained on a regular basis,” he said.