Immediately after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered a crackdown on the rampant cattle smuggling through the Indo-Bangladesh border, the powerful cattle smugglers hit back by triggering communal violence in a pocket in North 24 Parganas district of Bengal along the border. Police sources said some people threw chunks of beef at a temple in the Chaltaberia area of Dattapukur on Thursday (1 March) night, evoking protests from Hindus who launched a counter-attack on the properties of known and notorious cattle smugglers in the area. That triggered a retaliation by the hired goons of cattle smugglers, but before the situation could spiral out of control, Rapid Action Force (RAF) was deployed in the area.
Locals say that decades of the administration turning a blind eye to cattle smuggling, clearly on instructions from the ruling politicians who benefited from this illicit trade, had led to the cattle smugglers becoming very powerful. Almost all these cattle smugglers, the police say, are illegal Bangadeshi Muslim migrants. These cattle smugglers have links across states and in Bangladesh.
Successive governments led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and now the Trinamool Congress have not taken action against these cattle smugglers since they belong to the minority community and have also emerged as powerful community leaders. Politicians need their support.
Banerjee ordered a crackdown on cattle smugglers after she reportedly received alarming reports of these smugglers being involved in harbouring and aiding Islamist radicals from across the border. The Union government has also been urging Bengal to take action against cattle smugglers who are involved in anti-India activities. By triggering a communal clash, the cattle smugglers want to demonstrate their clout and also send a message to Banerjee not to mess with them.
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