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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 8, February 15, 2014

Trading Cattle to Bangladesh

Monday 17 February 2014, by Sunanda Sanyal

Bengali society is at risk today, thanks to the political parties. I will discuss one of the issues which devalues democracy. The Statesman has reported a number of times about cattle theft to Bangladesh. I have seen it myself at Ghojadanga, off the border on Bangladesh, very close to Basirhat. Headlights are tied to lamp posts to prevent cattle theft. But according to Haji Nurul Islam, a Trinamul MLA, cattle theft occurred at the Bangladesh border on our Republic Day. The CPI-M-led Left Front preceded the Trinamul Government for 34 years. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of the Trinamul Government, while she was an Opposition leader, expressly promised not only by raising slogans, but in the books she wrote, that she would be humane as a Chief Minister.

Earlier the CPI-M promised as much, but to no avail. It all began when the Left Front was in power, but former CM Buddhadeb Bhatta-charjee did little to stop it. All the same Suche-tana, Buddhadeb’s daughter, is an animal lover. She has buried her dog which unfortunately died. I have seen the burial ground. But she has not uttered a word about cattle theft. We draw the conclusion that she is selective in her love of animals. A journalist by profession, Tapan Kumar Mondal reports in Jamuna-Mati, a local newspaper published from Chandpara, a village close to Bongaon, that IC Chandrasekhar Das of the Gaighata Police Station smashed his camera, since he knows what kind report he writes. On the other hand, Prabhashchandra Mondal, a schoolteacher by profession, writes in the same paper that customers buy thousands of cattle in the open markets of Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan etc. Thereafter they are loaded onto wagons, matadors, and trucks and sold off to Bangladesh. They are laid one over another. Some of them die.

Prabhashchandra writes in the same paper, projecting the demand for ‘right to life’, as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. His views are correct because slaughter houses have sprung up on the Bangladesh side of the border. On our side of the border schoolchildren are buying cycles to cross borders, because a lot of money is involved in cattle theft. So on the borders hooch trade, heroin and girl-running go on without let or hindrance. This does not bode well for Bangladesh either. In both countries there are demands for goons during elections.

Prabhashchandra states a case in point. The daughter of his friend, farmer Barun Biswas, Sima, has been lost probably to Bangladesh for at least five months. Most of these girls come back forlorn and hapless. Girl-running is of course a two-way traffic. It has spread in both countries. Prabhash continues: “The mean politicians’ callousness to social issues compels me to take up the pen and rise in protest.” Tapan Mandal reports in Jamuna-Mati that Sahebdanga, Tili, Potapara, Jhikra are on the India-Bangladesh border. The Tili bridge between India and Bangladesh has collapsed due to the constant flight of cattle across the Bangladeshi border. On the other side of the border a plethora of modern khatals (ponds) have come up. Tapan Mandal complains that farmers do not protest for fear of being subjected to harassment and harm.

‘Extortionists include policemen,’ admitted the IC of the local police station, Chandra-sekhar Das. Tapan Kumar Mandal has submitted a recording of the IC’s words to the North 24 Pargana’s District Magistrate, Home Secretary, Chief Minister, and the Governor of the State— but to no effect. The Bangladeshis, carrying arms, shuttle between India and Bangladesh and play havoc. They easily enter Duma Baor, Shahebdanga, Bysati with arms of the Gaighata Block and pilfer chemical fertilisers to Bangladesh. In the last 34 years the CPM did nothing to stop this kind of trade with Bangladesh, but now the Trinamul Congress does nothing either. This shows that the political parties aren’t interested.

Meanwhile, men and women have squatted on the streets where cattle theft occur since the publication of an article by me in Jamuna-Mati. An elderly protester’s house has been bombed and smeared with human faeces. But, as Tapan Mandal says, afraid of his life and limbs, the local farmer, Sushanta Kumar Das, has informed the Governor and Chief Minister as to what was happening to them, with no result. The Bangladeshi operators easily enter India and carry on their nefarious activities. Arindam Mukherjee of the Gaighata Police Station has given his phone number (9733626900) and calls for all sorts of help. But the Dakmaster of the Gaighata Police Station collects the money through Bablu, who happens to be the cattle theft’s mainspring, from Boro Sehana’s Babar Sardar, Altab Sardar and Sankar Gain.

Sunanda Sanyal is a leading intellectual figure in present-day West Bengal. He is the President of the Ganamukti Parishad.