SILCHAR: The rescue of 22 suspected Burmese cows and 19 buffaloes by police from several places of Katigorah in southern Assam’s Cachar district in the past four days has given strong indications about the illicit smuggling of cattle in Barak Valley.
According to police, the rescued animals were about to be smuggled to Bangladesh.
As per available information, police rescued 17 suspected Burmese cows from Lathimara on February 28. On March 1, five Burmese cows were rescued from Shantipur and 19 buffaloes were rescued from Tarinipur ONGC Road.
Lathimara, Shantipur and Tarinipur fall under Katigorah police station and are 20-30km away from Silchar town.
On detailed reports about the rescue operation, police said that based on a tip-off, an operation was conducted in Lathimara and found 17 suspected Burmese cows on a paddy field on February 28.
The cows were taken to Katigorah police station and the necessary legal procedure was initiated. No one was detained or arrested in connection with the case, police said.
Similarly, on March 1, police carried out an operation in Shantipur and rescued five suspected Burmese cows, which were later taken to Katigorah police station. No one was detained or arrested in connection, said police.
On March 1, 19 buffaloes were recovered from a vehicle on Tarinipur ONGC Road at night by police. The driver and assistant driver, both residents of Meghalaya, were arrested. During the investigation, police found that the animals were about to be smuggled to Bangladesh.
Cachar superintendent of police N. Mahatto said, “After the 17 suspected Burmese cows were rescued, a preliminary investigation into the matter found that the animals were Burmese cows and they were about to be smuggled outside India. A racket is trying to run the cattle smuggling from Cachar/ Barak Valley to different places and a manhunt is on to find out all those involved in the illegal activities.”
N. K. Saikia, Katigorah police station’s officer-in-charge, said operations to curb the smuggling of Burmese cows and other animals would be carried out regularly. Police will dismantle such racket involving the unlawful trade of Burmese cows and other animals via Katigorah, Saikia said. He said he is hopeful that all those involved in the illegal activities would be behind bars soon.
Complaints about the illegal transport of Burmese cows from Myanmar to Barak Valley via Mizoram have poured in from various quarters over the past few months.
According to sources, who are aware of developments related to the alleged smuggling of the animals, the Burmese cows are brought from Myanmar to Barak Valley mostly via the Assam-Mizoram interstate border areas in Hailakandi district and then smuggled to Bangladesh.
In Cachar district’s Katigorah, those involved in the racket collect Rs 4,000-5,000 per cow for helping the cattle consignment pass through the route (Katigorah) safely. Similar cattle smuggling rackets are there in Srikona and Salchapra areas too. A single cow is sold somewhere between Rs 70,000 to Rs 1.20 lakh in the valley, people aware of the information claimed.
Earlier, cows were imported to Barak Valley from places like Lanka, Doboka and Udali (all in Assam), but the state government has imposed various restrictions on that. The final destination of most of the smuggled cows is Bangladesh, people aware of the developments claimed.
Barak Valley shares borders, including riverine border, with neighbouring Bangladesh in Cachar and Karimganj districts. Cachar district shares around 32 km-long border with Bangladesh, while Karimganj district shares about 92 km-long border with that country.
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In October 2022, 18 Burmese cows were seized from a truck and three men were arrested in Cachar district’s Sonabarighat. In the same month (last year), eight Burmese cows were rescued by police from a vehicle and a man was held in Dholai.
According to government records, more than 1,100 cases of cattle smuggling were registered by the Assam police between May 2021 to May 2022. As per the data, police apprehended 992 smugglers, rescued over 9400 cattle and seized 417 vehicles during that period regarding the smuggling cases.
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