Mathura, 2019-12-12 (VT): In a shocking development, the holy town of Mathura was recently in news for being a thriving centre for illegal wildlife trade. Investigations brought to light the fact that the city has been an important link for smugglers involved in illegal trading of animal (terrestrial and aquatic) body parts, particularly tiger skin and deer horns which are used as decoration.
Large caches of turtle, peacock, squirrel, and rat body parts have been recovered by the Police intermittently. On Sunday, Kanskhar-based Kanhaiya Agrawal was taken into custody for illegal possession of animal body parts.
Around six months back an illegal turtle trade racket was busted in Barsana. At least 25 turtles were recovered by the Police while the culprits were smuggling them to Alwar (Rajasthan) via Mathura. Turtle skull and other body parts are used extensively in Ashtma, TB and other medicines for respiratory conditions. They are in demand for their value in Tantric practices as well. Deers are mainly hunted for their horns and musk.
Mathura is also one of the leading ivory markets in India. Large amounts of elephant tusks which are smuggled in from Kerala are used in making ornaments and Ayurvedic and homeopathic medicines. The Police have made several arrests in Vrindavan in this regard. Two years back the Shergarh Police found over 100 snakes in a similar case. Snake venom is used as anti-venom and for making cancer medicines.
In the year 2013-14 a paint and hardware businessman from Mathura’s Holi Gate was nabbed for possession of large amounts of squirrel and rat hair being used to make paintbrushes for artists. The cost of a brushe ranged from Rs. 250 to several thousands.
According to Arvind Kumar (DFO, Mathura), smuggling of species protected under Schedule I and II of the Wildlife Protection Act takes place at a large scale in Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana where businesses dealing in puja samigri, kanthi malas and conch making form a crucial link in the illegal trade.
The Wildlife Protection Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants in India. It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection, with Schedule I and part II of Schedule II providing absolute protection.
Smuggling of animals included in Schedule I and II attracts 6-year jail term; there being no provision for fine or bail, said Kumar adding that the Police has been quick to act against offenders whenever information was made available to them in the past. The arrest of Kanhaiya Agrawal is another step in this direction.