GUWAHATI, June 17 - A fake State government letter allowing cattle transportation that was circulated among officials of Assam and the neighbouring states led to a spurt in incidents of cattle smuggling in the last few months.
The letter in the veterinary department�s letterhead and with a memo number was purportedly issued in the name of the Joint Secretary of the State�s Animal Husbandry and Veterinary department, and a copy was marked to senior officials of West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Meghalaya, besides the Deputy Commissioners, Superintendents of Police and DTOs of Assam, BSF, etc.
The letter dated February 22 stated that the Assam government allowed a firm, AK Mandal Enterprise, to restart its inter-state cattle transportation for agricultural purpose. Vehicles of the firm were also allowed fitness certificates by the transport department, the letter stated. Cattle transportation is restricted in Assam and traders have to follow a lot of formalities.
The matter came to the knowledge of the veterinary department only last month and it immediately issued a rejoinder to all the officials. �It is prima facie a fake order. All concerned are hereby requested to kindly take note of the same and contact Dispur Police Station if anybody is found transporting cattle on the strength of that order,� the veterinary department secretary said in a letter to all district heads and enforcement agencies.
Police sources admitted that there was a spurt in cattle smuggling in the last few months, and linked the phenomenon to the fake letter. �A number of cattle smugglers have been caught in the last few weeks,� an official said.
Following media reports of the cattle syndicate, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had directed the Assam Police chief to take strict preventive action last week, and that led to a police crackdown and apprehension of many smugglers over the last few days.
When contacted, veterinary department secretary KK Nath said his department has lodged an FIR at the Dispur Police Station over the fake letter. �It is apparent that the department did not issue the letter. Police is working to find out how the letter was circulated and by whom,� Nath said.