A total of 74 cases of involvement of Border Security Force (BSF) officials with smugglers at the India-Bangladesh and India-Pakistan border together, have been detected in the last two years. This information was provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs to Parliament last month.
A total of 55 cases have been registered against Punjab Police officials and the BSF together between 2014 and 2016 for being involved in smuggling of narcotics across the India-Pakistan border in Punjab. According to sources in the BSF, smuggling has been a major concern along both the India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders and items like drugs, animal skins, animals, medicines, currencies, mobile phones, precious metals, cows, and ammunition are some of the major articles that get smuggled across the border.
A source said: “Most of the time, these materials are intercepted by the border intelligence unit, but sometimes, when our own men are involved with the smugglers, giving them passage across the border, such crimes go undetected. However, we have a strict vigil policy along the border, especially along the India-Pakistan border. Even then, crimes like these happen, because every organisation has some bad apples.”
In 2016, 35 cases of involvement of BSF officials with smugglers at the India-Bangladesh border were detected, out of which some three BSF officials were found to be in connivance with the cattle smugglers along the India-Bangladesh border. In 2017, 31 cases were detected and in 2018 till February, four cases were detected by the Vigilance Department of the BSF.
However, the number is lower along the India-Pakistan border, given the hostile political situation between the two countries.
In 2016, three cases of BSF officials being involved with smugglers were reported from the India-Pakistan border, while in 2017, only one such case was reported. However, in 2018 till February, no such case from the India-Pakistan border was detected. Out of the total number of 74 cases, 70 cases were detected along the India-Bangladesh border which saw the involvement of BSF officials with smugglers; in 39 of the cases, the officials were punished, while in 12 cases, some of the officials were acquitted.
A total of 72,323 cases of smuggling were detected at the India-Bangladesh border during 2015-2017, in which around 5,200 people were caught and handed over to the local police.
The number of cases of smuggling along the India-Pakistan border is much lower compared to the India-Bangladesh border. A total of 152 cases of smuggling were reported from the India-Pakistan border during the same time, in which some 288 persons were caught.
According to senior officers in the BSF, smuggling is higher along the India-Bangladesh border because of the large unfenced border and a long stretch of riverine border that India and Bangladesh shares.
A senior BSF official told this newspaper: “Smuggling has been a problem along the India-Bangladesh border for a very long time. The terrain across the India-Bangladesh border is such that smugglers find an easy way out.”
In 2016, some 20,900 cases of cattle smuggling were detected along the India-Bangladesh border, while in 2017, the number reduced to around 1,700 cases of cattle smuggling along the same borders. During 2014-2016, some 100 cases of smuggling of arms and ammunition were reported along the India-Bangladesh border, in which 200 pieces of arms and ammunitions were recovered by BSF officials.