DAMAK, Nov 9: Police on Tuesday morning impounded four trucks with 50 bulls which were being taken to Jhapa from Morang. A joint team of Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force had arrested the drivers and taken the trucks under control at 4 am. According to the security forces, the bulls were being taken to India.
Locals say that smuggling of bulls is not a new story. It happens right under the nose of the law enforcers and sometimes in front of them. The police do arrest the drivers occasionally but most of the times 'it happens in collusion with the police,” locals allege.
"It is not a new story here. We have seen bulls being taken across the border in trucks several times," said a local of Damak, requesting anonymity. "If the government wills to stop it, this would come under control," he added.
It is said that different routes in Nepal are used to take the bulls to Bihar and West Bengal states of India, and the meat product is further transported to Assam, Manipur and even Bangladesh.
SP Dinesh Raj Mainali at the District Police Office, Jhapa admitted of massive smuggling of bulls. However, he claimed that the police are now committed to crack down on this illegal activity.
"We have been taking strict action against this illegal activity. Many such smugglers have come under our net," he said. "Even before I was posted here, I had heard that a big network was involved in smuggling of bulls," he added.
Also due to the community-police partnership, which Nepal Police launched a year ago, getting information has become easier, according to police.
Tuesday's arrest was possible due to the information provided by the locals to the police, SP Mainali said. "We had been informed by some people that bulls were being transported to Jhapa from Morang. We were also equally vigilant. And we caught them on the way," he stated.
The trucks were held at Suruda area. According to DSP Kumar Shrestha at the district police office, the bulls were actually brought from India. They were brought to southern Nepal first from India and then taken to Jhapa and back to India.
"In fact, those bulls were brought from Uttar Pradesh of India to Nepal. And then through this route they were being smuggled to India again. They are using Nepal's route for smuggling," he said.
The police on Tuesday handed over the livestock, the trucks and the drivers to the customs office. According to a non-gazetted officer at Bhadrapur Customs Office, Bikash Dahal, the bulls are worth Rs 1.6 million.
"We are studying the case. Receipts of the purchase of those bulls are being studied and concerned parties have also come to the customs office," said DSP Shrestha. "We have launched a campaign to crack down this kind of smuggling," he added.
According to the police, Ram Shrestha of Lumbini Suppliers, Jaya Chudal, Jiwan Karki and Shambhu Singh, among others came to the customs office following the arrest. And they are being interrogated. "On the basis of the preliminary investigation, we have gathered some information. But we need to get to the root of all this," DSP Shrestha said.
He stated that Karki and Chudal are from Jhapa and they are into this business since a long time. The duo is said to be involved in transportation of other cattle as well. According to DSP Shrestha, such smuggling is going from other border points as well. "There is a huge network. In the last few weeks alone we have taken hold of many of such trucks," he said.
He also mentioned about a recent arrest of a pick-up van where the driver had fled with the key. After the driver fled, police had to drag the van to the customs office with the help of a truck. "At that time we had taken a few calves under control. But the driver just fled leaving the van midway," he said.