Kolkata: The election machinery of Narendra Modi and the BJP has made a campaign plank of cow protection, but hundreds of bovine animals saved from smugglers face death and disease on the India-Bangladesh border in the absence of proper upkeep. The cattle heads were seized by the Border Security Force (BSF), which guards the international border, when they were allegedly being smuggled to Bangladesh for possible slaughter. According to official BSF records accessed by ThePrint, as many as 25,294 bovine animals, mostly cows, were seized at the border between 1 November 2018 and 31 July 2019 — an average of 2,800 a month. Of these, 6,648 cattle heads were taken by two NGOs, while 7,445 were given to a local common shelter at villages (‘khor’ in local parlance). As of now, the outposts along the border are hosting 2,336 bovine animals, nearly 2,000 of them cows, after 711 died unattended. BSF sources said the bovines sent to the khors generally enter the smuggling racket again, a process the force calls “recycling”. “We have at least 2,500 to 3,000 cattle heads stranded at several BOPs (border outposts). The BSF takes care of them and feeds them,” said BSF South Bengal Frontier deputy inspector general S.S. Guleria. “We are yet to get any financial assistance for this purpose separately. Everything is being managed by the force as of now. An NGO, Dhyan Foundation, is taking the cattle for care and maintenance,” he added.Ill equipped to tend to the animals, the BSF has written to their brass in Delhi for funds, but is yet to get a response two months on. Amid this silence, the animals continue to wait for freedom from their oppressive living conditions.