New Delhi: Some 30,000 Indian soldiers guarding the border with Bangladesh have a new mandate under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government this year — stop cattle from crossing illegally into the Muslim-majority neighbour.
Roughly every other night, troops armed with bamboo sticks and ropes wade through jute and paddy fields and swim across ponds to chase ageing bovines, and smugglers, headed for markets in Bangladesh.
The crackdown is one of the clearest signs yet of how Indian policies are having an economic impact on neighbouring countries.
About 2 million head of catle are smuggled into Bangladesh annually from India. The $600 million-a-year trade has flourished over the past four decades and is considered legal by Dhaka.
Modi’s government wants to put an end to it.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh travelled this spring to the frontier with Bangladesh, calling on the Border Security Force (BSF) to halt cattle smuggling completely so that the “people of Bangladesh give up eating beef”, media reported at the time.