On 29 January, the residents in Kalain, Assam, apprehended two cow smugglers who attempted to steal cows in broad daylight. Irate local Hindus thrashed the two thieves, Bappon Ahmed and Saidul Ahmed, before handing them to the police. A stolen car that the robbers were using was set ablaze.
The incident was reported near the Sindura Tea Garden in Kalain. Kalain is situated in a very strategic location in the Cachar district of Assam and is just 10 km from the Surma river bordering Bharat and Bangladesh. The two accused Muslim men are now in police custody.
Three people (including both the Ahmeds) stole a cow from the Sindura Tea Garden and bundled it into an Alto car. The thieves drove away from the crime scene when local witnesses understood what was happening. Locals Hindus chased them.
After going some distance, the thieves realized they were trapped. They stopped the vehicle and tried to unload the cow from the car. By then, those giving chase reached there and tried to detain the three bandits.
One thief successfully escaped from the spot in the ensuing fighting between the two groups. This was when the locals wrecked the vehicle used for cow smuggling and torched it. Later they called the police and handed over the two thieves to them. Police confirmed that the cow thieves are residents of Kalain’s Bhatpara area.
On 22 December, Katigara (in Cachar) locals spotted a heavily tinted Meghalaya vehicle driving fast through the busy market, and they stopped the car. Upon inspection, they found a grown-up cow loaded inside. Locals beat up the three cattle lifters, who were identified as Tanio Lio, Fourchin Loi, and Jokob Lio, from the Umkiang village in the Khliehriat district of Meghalaya.
On 16 December, Katigara residents rescued six cows from two vehicles, including a car and a mini-truck. For many days there were complaints of cow trafficking near the Bangladesh border. They also detained two smugglers, vandalized the vehicles, and handed over the accused to the police. The identities of the criminals remain unclear.
The list of cow smuggling cases goes on and on. Cows stolen from different parts of Bharat ultimately make their way to Bangladesh’s beef processing and tannery industry. The trafficking of cows is rampant through the porous Bharat-Bangladesh borders in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and North Bengal. Also alarming is the cruel way cows are tied up and squeezed into tight spaces.
Under the leadership of Assam Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma’s BJP government, the state passed the Assam Cattle Preservation Act in August 2021. The legislation bars the sale and purchase of beef or beef products in areas inhabited mainly by Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and other non-beef-eating communities or within a radius of 5 km of any Temple or Satra (Vaishnavite monasteries). Cattle includes cows, bulls, and bullocks, but buffaloes are exempted.
The Act was passed to check cattle smuggling to Bangladesh. It prohibited inter-state transport of cattle to and from Assam without valid documents. The Act was amended in December 2021 to allow movement from one district to another, provided these do not border any foreign country. Transporters must carry permits from the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department to move the cattle for bonafide agricultural or animal husbandry purposes or trade.
Cases have plummeted 71 percent from 77,410 in 2019 to 21,917 in 2021. It should be noted that Assam police have successfully conducted operations to weed out cow trafficking from the State under the auspices of the Dr. Himanta-led BJP Government. In the past 18 months, more than 1300 cow smugglers have been detained, and more than 8,000 cattle have been rescued from them.