SHILLONG, April 8 - Khasi-Jaintia Butchers� Association has blamed the Meghalaya Government for the rise in cattle smuggling in the State while condemning Chief Minister Mukul Sangma�s recent statement that the State police has no role to stop such smuggling to Bangladesh.
The Association took out a protest rally in the city from Motphran to Additional Secretariat yesterday and demanded from the State Government to do its bit to stop such smuggling from Meghalaya to Bangladesh. The Association said if the State Government shirks from its responsibilities, members from the Association would take up checking.
�We would conduct checks of cattle coming into the State and ensure that these cattle don�t land up at Indo-Bangla borders for smuggling. We are also ready to be arrested,� vice president of the Association, G Warpih said.
Another member said that at least 30 shops selling beef have closed down in Jaintia Hills while herds of cattle in War-Jaintia are being smuggled into Bangladesh for a fortune. �The War-Jaintia area is full of cattle, but in different parts of the district there is an acute shortage of cattle. How is that possible?� he asked.
The BSF and the State Government have held each other responsible for the spurt in cattle smuggling to Bangladesh. The Chief Minister recently said in the Assembly that the State police have no role in checking cattle smuggling to Bangladesh and held the Central agencies (BSF) responsible for stopping such smuggling.
On its part, the BSF is wondering out loud how cattle in large numbers are being transported to the borders through various check gates manned by State Government authorities. The BSF has also said that �cattle smugglers� are getting back seized cattle that are auctioned by authorities near the International borders with Bangladesh.
Senior BSF Officials said that some of the cattle have been seized at the borders not less than three times and such seizures indicate that cattle smugglers have a free hand at the auctions.
The BSF hands over seized cattle to concerned authorities and these are later auctioned by the Customs. �The seized cattle are marked and ear-tagged, so these are easy to identify,� the official said.
The BSF official said that to stop the cattle smugglers getting their hands on the seized cattle, the BSF have suggested that these auctions must be held away from the International border.
However, the Custom officials have not done so. �Once these auctions are held away from the border it gives a fair chance to all the genuine bidders, especially from the Butcher Association to participate,� the official said.
�Records of the bidders must be maintained by the Customs. How can a person with a small family without any business interest buy about 20 cattle?� the official asked.
Most of the cattle are seized near Pynursla in East Khasi Hills. The auctions are also held in the same place by the Customs officials. The only saving grace for the Custom official is putting up auction notice in local newspapers.