17 cops hurt in clash with ‘cow smugglers’ at Bangladesh border

At least 17 police personnel were injured in a clash with suspected cow smugglers at the India-Bangladesh border at Mekhliganj area in Cooch Behar district on Sunday. Two men and four women were arrested, and 34 cows rescued.

In a similar incident in Malda district on Saturday, a Bangladeshi national was killed in a skirmish between Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and 30-40 suspected cow smugglers.

Sharing the sequence of the Cooch Behar incident, an officer said a police team reached Uchalpukuri village after being tipped-off about cows being smuggled across the border. The team was attacked by a group of people, said the police officer. Eight of the 17 injured police personnel were admitted to the nearby Mekhliganj Sub Divisional Hospital. Six people were arrested for allegedly attacking the policemen. Despite the attack, the police were able to rescue 34 cows from a shed.

A huge police contingent has been deployed in the area to allay the tension.

Reacting to the incident, BJP leader Dilip Ghosh hit out at the state government for objecting to the extension of BSF’s jurisdiction to 50 km within international border areas.

“Such incidents prove how unsafe our border areas are. I want to know what these people have to say who have time and again opposed the Centre’s decision to extend the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) from 15 to 50 km in the international border… Our borders are unsafe…” said Ghosh.

TMC MLA from Cooch Behar Udayan Guha attacked the BSF for not being proactive. “If the BSF had done its job perfectly, such smugglers wouldn’t have entered villages,” said Guha.

In the second incident in Malda, a BSF team was attacked by suspected cow smugglers at the Pannapur border outpost early on Saturday. One Maqbool Hussain (25) from Nagaon in Bangladesh was killed in the clash. Two head of cattle were rescued.

“Around 6 am, the jawans posted at the outpost noticed the movement of 15-20 suspected smugglers with animals near a fence in the Indian territory on the international boundary. Smugglers were trying to smuggle them across the International Boundary. At the same time, about (another) 15-20 smugglers with arms and batons (lathi) from the Bangladesh side came 200 meters inside the Indian territory,” BSF said.

According to the BSF, the group, when asked to stop, attacked the jawans with stones and daggers. “The jawan tried to stop them by first firing non-lethal weapons in self-defence. But the smugglers continued to attack. In order to protect life and property, a BSF jawan was compelled to fire… due to which a Bangladeshi smuggler got injured near the fence. At the same time, hearing the sound of the fire, the rest of the smugglers fled, taking advantage of the darkness…” it added.

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