CBI arrests BSF commandant held in cattle smuggling case

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(Eds: Updating with details and pol reax) Kolkata, Nov 17 (PTI) The CBI on Tuesday arrested a BSF commandant for his alleged involvement in a cattle smuggling racket operating at the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal, a statement by the investigating agency said.

Satish Kumar, the BSF commandant who is now posted at Raipur in Chhattisgarh, was summoned to Kolkata for questioning in connection with the case by CBI.

He was arrested after the CBI interrogated him for hours.

'Satish Kumar has been arrested. A case was registered against him two months ago. He will be produced before a court on Wednesday,' the CBI source said.

A CBI statement said that a case was registered on September 21, 2020 against the then commandant of 36 Battalion, Border Security Force (BSF), three private persons and unknown public servants and private persons following allegations of illegal cattle trade along West Bengal- Bangladesh border by the accused 'in connivance with public servants.

'Searches were earlier conducted at the premises of the accused. Investigation is on', it added.

In September, CBI sleuths had conducted raids in different parts of West Bengal, including Kolkata, over cattle smuggling on the international border. The BSF commandant's house was also raided at that time.

Kumar, who was Commandant of the 36th Battalion of the BSF's South Bengal Frontier then, and three others were booked for rustling cattle, the source said.

When contacted, a senior BSF official of the South Bengal Frontier said, 'Kumar was transferred from the 36th Battalion three years back. He is now posted in the Naxalite area of Raipur, Chattisgarh.' The three other persons who were booked along with Kumar included Enamul Haque, the alleged kingpin of the cattle smuggling racket.

The CBI had arrested Haq on November 6 in New Delhi. A court in the national capital had granted him interim bail and told him to appear before CBI in Kolkata on November 9.

He came to the agency's office and claimed he is a suspected COVID-19 case. Following this the CBI asked him to visit it on November 24.

Haque was arrested in 2018 by CBI for allegedly bribing another BSF Commandant and is out on bail in that case.

The BSF commandant's arrest has triggered a war of words between the BJP and the ruling TMC in Bengal. The saffron party has said that many more heads are 'likely to roll in the days to come'.

'This is just the beginning. The TMC should be careful. Many more heads will roll in days to come,' BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu said.

The TMC refuted the charge as 'baseless and politically motivated'.

'From where has the TMC entered the scene? The CBI has arrested a BSF official. The BSF is a security force under the central government. The allegations against us are baseless and politically motivated,' TMC MP Sougata Roy said.

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