Assam Rifles troopers have seized smuggled goods worth over Rs 1,603 crore since last year after the illegally-traded goods were smuggled in from Myanmar, the chief of the para-military force said.
Addressing a ‘Conversation Series’ organised by industry body FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE), Assam Rifles Director General Lt Gen Pradeep Chandran Nair said that the force had seized smuggled goods valued at Rs 857 crore last year, while contraband worth Rs 746 crore has been seized so far this year.
“These seizures are in spite of the ongoing trade which is alarming and overwhelming, detrimental to national development and India’s Act East Policy,” the Assam Rifles DG said.
He said that Assam Rifles as the border guarding force has been at the helm of affairs to counter illegal trade along the 1,643 km long porous and unfenced India-Myanmar border.
“The whole region is of great importance from economic and strategic point of view and will determine the future growth and development of the area, provided the necessary steps and initiatives as designed are executed under the Act East Policy,” he added.
Nair said that the Assam Rifles as a force continues to honour and execute the given mandate in letter and spirit and takes pride in being one of the finest outfits of the nation.
“The force is committed to working in synergy with all the Central and state agencies to combat illegal trade and smuggling towards its rightful end,” he added.
CASCADE Chairman Anil Rajput congratulated the Assam Rifles chief and the bravehearts of his force who are determined to protect the infiltration of illicit goods into the country while maintaining security across the borders.
“The proactive vigilance of the officers of Assam Rifles in intercepting the movement of smuggled goods is a definitive step towards putting fear in the hearts of those who deal in such trading,” Rajput pointed out.
He also said that proceeds from illicit trade are increasingly becoming the main source of terror funding.
“We need to understand this relationship and work towards effective mechanisms to counter its impact,” he said.
Former Special Commissioner with Delhi Police, Deep Chand, said that illicit trade across the borders is impacting the social fabric of the nation.
Noting that India in particular is a victim of large-scale smuggling, he said that this web of illicit trade has entangled not only the legal industry and governments, but also the consumers who are exposed to grave risks to life and security.
Chand, who is also the advisor to CASCADE, highlighted the issues of cross-border smuggling in India, underlining the preparedness of the government and the initiatives taken by Assam Rifles to combat this menace.
A FICCI statement said that border forces are critical stakeholders in combating cross-border illegal trading activities.
On one hand, while open borders facilitate travel and trade, they also make border control more challenging due to the emerging new forms of cross-border crimes, it said.
The statement said that it becomes vital that officials on the borders are prepared to identify the possible suspects and their victims in such ill-intentioned crimes.