According to the Department of Livestock Services, there is a stock of around 11.8 million of animals this year
Thousands of cattle are being smuggled into Bangladesh from India through the border areas of Kurigram ahead of Eid-ul-Azha while local cattle farmers and traders are fretting about the sale of their livestock due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both Indian and Bangladeshi smugglers are engaged in this illegal activity, managing the border forces of both the countries, sources said.
They are using Brahmaputra and Dudhkumar Rivers in Bhurungamari, Nageshwari and Sadar upazila to smuggle cattle into the district.
As the water level has swelled due to flood, the Indian smugglers are using strong water currents to send the cattle into Bangladesh territories after sunset to avoid detection.
The Indian smugglers pushed the cattle including cows and buffaloes in the deep water, allowing the currents to take the animals to the other side of the border.
Later, Bangladeshi smugglers are taking the cows and buffaloes to local cattle markets. Every day at least 100 to 200 cattle are being lined up in markets for sale in the district. They are later transported to Dhaka, Chittagong, Noakhali and Tangail by trucks.
Visiting the Jatropur haat in Sadar upazila, it was seen that the Indian cattle outnumbered the local cattle in the market. Hundreds of Indian cattle marked with special signs are on sale.
Wishing anonymity, some cattle traders in Jatropur haat, said they need to pay TK 500 to 1000 per cow or buffalo to the linemen in the border areas to bring cattle into Bangladesh. And the lessees take Tk 350 per cow sold in the market.
Jatrapur Union Parishad chairman Ayub Ali Sarker said there is no permission of selling Indian cows in Jatropur haat. But some dishonest people are illegally trading cows in the market which is causing loss to local farmers who have reared their livestock targeting the Eid ul Azha.
The government is losing revenue from here, he added.
However, Md Anwar Hossain, a lessee of the haat, claimed BGB gives permission to sell after taking Tk500 as corridor fee per cow or buffalo.
Meantime, the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) in the district said they have beefed up patrolling to thwart the cattle smuggling.
BGB-22 Battalion Captain Lt Mohammad Jamal Hosain, said: "Smuggling has risen as the rivers swelled. But BGB is working to stop smuggling. We have already seized many illegal Indian cows."
"We are facing obstacles in patrolling border areas due to flood and inclement weather. The smugglers are taking advantage of this situation," he added
Regarding the matter, Deputy Commissioner Rezaul Karim said: "We did not give any permission to sell Indian cows and buffaloes in Jatropur haat. To protect local cattle farmers and traders from loss, authorities have tightened surveillance in border areas to stop cattle smuggling.
However, he expected that the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) would be more vigilant to prevent cattle smuggling though border areas in the district.