Millennium Post

Drugs, cattle smuggling along Pak, Bangla borders continue amid COVID-19 lockdown: Data

New Delhi: The nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 may have brought many businesses to a grinding halt, but smuggling of drugs and fake Indian currency notes across the Bangladesh and Pakistan borders is continuing unabated, albeit in much lesser numbers, a latest data has revealed.

According to the seizure and apprehension data (between January 1- March 24 and from March 25-April 12), the two borders guarded by the Border Security Force saw a continued number of such instances prompting the force to clamp enhanced vigil.

The first phase of the lockdown, aimed to contain the spread of coronavirus, was enforced from March 25 to April 14, while the second edition of this strictly 'stay at home' protocol began on Wednesday and will go on till May 3.

Along the Punjab border, notorious for cross-border heroin smuggling from Pakistan, drug seizures came down from 97 kgs to about 18 kgs between the two comparable periods.

Similarly, along the eastern front along Bangladesh, 328 cattle heads were seized by the BSF as compared to the pre-lockdown seizures of 20,637.

This is about 21 times less per month when the pre and post lockdown time periods are compared.

"The force has issued directions to be on alert against all border crimes. While the seizure quantities have gone down during the lockdown period, such instances are happening almost every day especially along the Bangladesh border. We are determined to ensure the sanctity of the two borders at all times," BSF spokesperson at its headquarters in Delhi Shubhendu Bharadwaj told PTI.

Seizure of Phensedyl cough syrup, abused as a drug by addicts in Bangladesh, came down by about three times between the two comparable time periods, the data showed.

Smuggling of fake Indian currency notes (FICN), in terms of value, was also reported about three times lesser across multiple frontiers (border head offices) of the BSF along Bangladesh.

The Border Security Force (BSF) has two of its border headquarters along the 4,096 km India-Bangladesh front in West Bengal, called north and south Bengal, and also in Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura.

The seizure of Yaba tablets, abused across the border in Bangladesh, also fell by almost 17 times with the border force seizing about 9,710 tablets during the lockdown period as compared to over 4.8 lakh tablets seized in the days since the beginning of this year.

Seizure of various kinds of narcotics like ganja' (cannabis) along the Bangladesh border also came down drastically during the lockdown, but instances with lesser quantity of narcotics were continuously intercepted by the BSF.

Smuggling of gold and silver ornaments and items were almost zero during the two comparable periods, the data added.

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