Dhaka: The pellet gun may have earned notoriety because of its use by the security forces during the ongoing unrest in Kashmir Valley, but the same non-lethal guns are also a feared weapon at the eastern border of the country, especially as a deterrent to cow smugglers.
The pellet guns, called the pump action gun (PAG), have been used by BSF in the eastern border, especially in the cattle corridor, since March 2011, as a non lethal weapon. The nonlethal weapons are used in addition to the regular, standard weapons of the BSF, namely the INSAS rifles.
India’s Border Security Force (BSF) has been under physical attacks from smugglers. The cow-traffickers are part of well oiled counter-intelligence network.
They avoid detection by the BSF and Border Guard Bangladesh ( BGB) on either side of Indo Bangladesh International Border.
“There are ‘linemen’ whose task is to keep tabs on troop movement. Then there are ‘transporters’ who ensure that cattle go across the border, from what appears to be a clear cut modus operandi of the smugglers. But once identified, the smugglers attack the BSF” said a senior officer in the BSF. “The cattle smugglers dread the pump action gun. They are effectively being used in the eastern border,” the officer added.
However, Director General of the Border Guard Bangladesh, Major General Aziz Ahmed says, the number of injuries and deaths caused by the use of force are far too high and this is a concern for the country.
“I cannot suggest BSF what weapons to use, but the number of deaths continue to remain high. And this is a concern for us.” He further added, “we have advised people not to indulge in cattle smuggling. But we feel, these people also have the right to live.
We feel the law of the land must take its course. We are against use of lethal weapons, an issue we have repeatedly raised with the Indian government.”
In 2014, number of criminals and smugglers injured at borders stood at 1517, and in 2015, it stood at 2385. Till August end this year, the figure stood at 1465. In contrast, the injuries by lethal weapon stood at 71 in 2014, 150 in 2015 and 96 by August end 2016.
On Sunday, BSF guards killed a 35-year-old cattle smuggler, Bahrul Islam, for allegedly trying to cross over near northern Kurhigram area’s Roumari Upazila.
BSF officials said the smugglers manage to find new routes due to the large porous border, but cattle smuggling has been restricted to a large extent.
Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on cattle smuggling said, “Cattle smuggling is illegal in Bangladesh. But this kind of smuggling is not only a problem for India, but also a problem for Bangladesh. Bangladeshi cattle farmers are not getting their proper price for their cattle because of smuggling from India. Bangladesh is committed to curb cattle smuggling.”
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijuju said, “Cattle smuggling has been an issue for a long time. It is not a political issue any longer. The people involved are doing the smuggling illegally. We are guarding our side of the border. But the question is still how do lakhs of cattle reach crossing the border over to Bangladesh.
So to curb cattle smuggling the state governments must come together. The cattle are shifted from one place to other. Our border guarding forces cannot hold the traders, the custom department can hold how many (smugglers). The BSF catches smugglers to turn them to police station. So the check has to be at different levels. We cannot check beyond Indian borders.”