Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Where's the beef? Indians don't want to know

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    • - Los Angeles Times
    • MURSHIDABAD, India
    • Estimates suggest 1.5 million cows, valued at up to $500 million, are smuggled annually, providing more than half the beef consumed in Bangladesh.

      The cows come from as far as Rajasthan, about 1,000 miles away. Many trade hands several times en route.

      At the Panso market in Jharkhand state, an interim stop about 300 miles from the border, the 15,000 or so cows passing through each week fetch about $100 apiece, local vendors say.

      Animals that arrive exhausted are injected with Diclofenac sodium, a banned anti-inflammatory drug, to energize them. Most of the traders are Muslims. Many of the drivers and handlers are Hindus. At the border, crossings are usually done at night.

      Most cows pass through West Bengal state, which shares a 1,300-mile border with Bangladesh. The state's communist government maintains a neutral line on religion, allowing cows to be openly slaughtered and traded.

    • "My grandmother's house is in Bangladesh, and her field is in India," he said. "There are 21 rivers along a border that's (2,700 miles) long. It's just not possible to stop."
    • (Anshul Rana of the Los Angeles Times' New Delhi Bureau and special correspondent Baldeo Sharma in Jharkhand contributed to this report.)

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