The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday evening arrested Satish Kumar, a senior Border Security Force (BSF) officer, in the cattle smuggling case in Bengal that the agency has been probing since 2018. Kumar was arrested in Kolkata after hours of interrogation.
The officer is one of the prime accused named in the first information report (FIR). He was commandant in the South Bengal Frontier of the BSF and is now posted in Raipur in Chhattisgarh. His home in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, was raided in September, a senior BSF official of the South Bengal Frontier said on condition of anonymity. A house that he owns in the Salt Lake area in the eastern fringes of Kolkata was also sealed by the agency.
The CBI is probing the alleged involvement of several BSF and Customs officials in the ongoing probe into cattle smuggling along the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. The illegal trade involved crores of rupees.
A CBI officer said on condition of anonymity that according to the agency’s FIR more than 20,000 cows were seized by the BSF when Kumar was posted as commandant of the 36th Battalion from May 2016 to May 2017. However, neither was any smuggler arrested nor the vehicles used for ferrying the cattle seized, the FIR says.
The case was registered in 2018 after a BSF commandant, who served in Bengal, was booked in Kerala. The probe revealed a nexus between government officers and cow traders. It is alleged that cattle seized by the BSF were auctioned within 24 hours with the help of some Customs officers so that cattle traders could buy these at very low price and legally sell them again.
The CBI is probing charges that for every cow seized and sold through this nexus, BSF officials used to get Rs 2,000 and Custom officials used to get Rs 500, according to the CBI FIR that HT has seen. In addition, Customs officials used to allegedly get 10 per cent of the auction price as a bribe.
CBI officers suspect that a large amount of money was sent to other states through hawala operators.
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