Is Delhi’s growing appetite for unorthodox meat giving rise to illegal animal trade in the city? The question emerged after a surprise swoop by wildlife inspectors unearthed an organised and established business of partridge meat at a location in Kashmere Gate on Monday.
A shop, which was licensed to sell Japanese quail, locally known as bater, was allegedly selling partridges covertly. The sale of partridges is banned in India.
Inspectors of the Delhi Wildlife Department who conducted the raid seized 75 skinned partridges from the shop’s refrigerator, cancelled the shop’s license to sell meat and arrested shopkeeper Ashok, under Schedule 4 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, that protects partridges, also known as teetar. If convicted, the accused faces a jail term of up to three years.
But the operation was not a walk in the park. Law enforcers had to haggle for hours at the shop to establish the seized consignment was indeed partridge meat. “Skinned partridges were kept in the fridge along with frozen Japanese quail, for which the shop had a license. Lay eyes would not have been able to distinguish between the two kinds of meat,” said RR Meena, wildlife inspector.
The Wildlife department laid a trap using decoy customers. “Obviously, the meat was not on display. The shop had a set clientele that often got the meat delivered on order. So the shopkeeper was skeptical when we approached him. The bird was being sold for Rs 200 a kilogram,” said Saurabh Gupta, member of NGO People for Animals, which assisted in the raid.
“This may be an indication that demand for unconventional meat is creating a racket of illegal animal trade in the Capital,” Meena said.