Smuggled Indian cattle are being taken to local markets in large numbers in Nilphamari's Dimla upazila and adjacent areas for sale as sacrificial animals before Eid-ul-Azha.
The smugglers bring cattle at night through the bordering river Teesta where patrol by law enforcers of the two countries is slack due to odd geographical conditions.
A few days ago, Dimla police detained nine smuggled cattle and arrested seven smugglers from Dangarhat area.
Border Guard Bangladesh often launches drive against the smugglers and detain Indian cattle but the smugglers become active again, taking the advantage of loopholes.
An investigation by this correspondent found that Bangladeshi cattle smugglers in collaboration with their Indian associates bring the animals from the other side of the border to Teesta shoal Jhar Singheswar of Purbo Satnai union in Dimla upazila of Nilphamari.
At night they push the cattle into the Teesta and engage some poor villagers for good amounts to steer the herds of cattle to the Bangladesh territory through the waterway.
On an average, 200 to 300 cattle are smuggled in this way, locals said, adding that
after arrival of the animals at Jhar Singheswar, those are counted in presence of a section of local influential people, ruling party leaders and dishonest members of law enforcement agencies.
Smugglers pay Tk 20 thousand for each pair to manage various quarters for safe passage of the cattle to different areas.
A veteran BNP leader of Purbo Satnai union, who recently joined the ruling Awami League (AL), acts as mediator for distribution of the money while a close relative of an influential AL leader controls the entire process, said locals on condition of anonymity.
A section of dishonest lessees of adjacent cattle markets provide the smugglers 'purchase receipt' to brand the animals as Bangladeshi ones.
People who protest the illegal act are harassed in different ways as smugglers enjoy the blessings of influential quarters, said Jahanara Begum, a social activist of Balapara village.
"Old Indian cattle are sold in markets at lower prices, which leads to price fall of the healthy animals reared in our farms. It is a threat to the development of local livestock," said Sumon Islam of Dakkhin Titpara village, who rears around 100 cattle in his farm.
Ramjan Ali, a small cattle farmer of Gayabari village, said many people like him might leave commercial cattle rearing if Indian animals occupy local markets. District Livestock Officer Monakka Ali said there are more than enough cattle in the district and so, there is no need to bring Indian cattle, which are sometimes found to be affected with severe infectious diseases.
Contacted, Mofizuddin Sheikh, officer in charge of Dimla Police Station, said, "Cattle smuggling has dropped noticeably as we have intensified 24-hour patrolling in the smuggling routes."