By Avijit Biswas
Bhagalpur: More than twenty five kilogram restricted tortoise meat clandestinely being taken to West Bengal was recovered at Kahalgaon railway station last night. Assisted by members of Railway Protection Force (RPF), the recovery was made by local forest department team.
A person identified as Pawan Sahani, resident of Kahalgaon was nabbed by forest department team in connection with smuggling of restricted meat. It is suspected the meat seized by forest department team was extracted killing more than fifty tortoises by people involved in illegal trade.
It may be mentioned here most of the turtle and tortoise species of India are protected under various schedules of Wild Life (Protection) Act. In light of the fact many species of turtles and freshwater tortoises are critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable their hunting besides trade of their body parts and derivatives is restricted under Wild Life (Protection) Act.
As per information the person arrested with the restricted meat interrogated by forest department team has said the meat was being taken by him to Rampurhat in West Bengal. He has further stated a man from Uttar Pradesh gave him the meat and entrusted him to reach the consignment to Rampurhat in West Bengal in lieu of Rs two thousand.
It is suspected either for purpose of preparing medicine or for food purpose, the restricted meat was being smuggled to West Bengal. Following receipt of a secret information regarding smuggling of tortoise meat the forest department team was vigilant since last few days.
The RPF personnel at Kahalgaon were intimated by forest department team last night about possible attempt of smuggling of restricted meat. Subsequently assisted by RPF, recovery was made by forest department team.
With involvement of organized gang suspected in illegal trade of tortoise meat, efforts are underway to identify the members of the gang. It is believed the person arrested with consignment could divulge information that could be valuable in identification of the gang.
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Writer Avijit Biswas, former principal correspondent of Hindustan Times Bhagalpur bureau, can be contacted at email@example.com
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