158 Indian softshell turtles seized, 3 held
As many as 158 Indian softshell turtles were seized in a joint operation by State Forest department and police from a car in Terai East Forest division on Thursday. Three people were arrested in this connection.
The trio was trying to smuggle the turtles, listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, in sacks to Haldwani in the car with a Delhi registration number. The car also carries a plate displaying the title of All India Rahul Gandhi Brigade State head. The seizure was made in the Terai East forest division in a joint operation involving the Forest Department and police working on inputs provided by Traffic India.
Dauli forest ranger RP Joshi said that the department had been receiving information about wildlife smuggling through this area. Late on Wednesday night, the department got a tip-off that some people are trying to smuggle wildlife in a car. The department alerted the police after which the area in question was picketed.
On Thursday around 4 am, the police noticed a car bearing registration number DL1CP 8833 coming from Kichha at breakneck speed. The police and forest staff stop the car.On checking the car, 158 turtles packed in three sacks were found in it. The trio identified themselves as Raju Majumdar, Junaid and Aslam -- all residents of Rudrapur were arrested. They revealed that they had sourced the turtles from Dineshpur and had made a deal to deliver them to a gang near the Gaula Bridge in Haldwani.
Sub-divisional forest officer NC Pant questioned the trio while herpetologist Jai Pratap Singh Sidhu and wildlife researcher Vipul Maurya informed the officials about the vulnerable status of the Indian softshell turtles.
According to Maurya, the turtles are between age group of one to five years were to be sold for their meat as there is considerable demand for it in the international market and even in some local areas.
The Forest Department booked the trio under various Sections of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. According to the police, investigations are on to ascertain name plate displaying the title of All India Rahul Gandhi Brigade State president on the vehicle. According to the Forest Department officials, the seized turtles is would cost more than Rs one lakh in the illegal market.
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