Cops recover 63 turtles from man in Panipat
A 50-year-old man was arrested in Panipat for allegedly possessing 63 turtles smuggled from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. The man intended to sell the turtles to his customers in Haryana, the police said.
The accused was identified as Vishavbandhu Sharma, a resident of Biharipur in Uttar Pradesh.
The turtles were of three different species — Indian tent turtle, Indian roofed turtle, and spotted pond turtle. The officials said these turtles are in much demand in Haryana and are reared as pets. According to Deepak Alwadhi, divisional wildlife officer, these varieties of turtles are listed as “scheduled animals” under the Wildlife Protection Act. As such, it is illegal to own a “scheduled animal” as a pet.
A joint team of the Haryana forest department, wildlife and crime teams of Panipat arrested the accused, who was produced before the court on Tuesday and was taken on a 10-day police remand.
Sumit Kuhar, superintendent of police, Panipat said they received a tip-off from one of their sources, informing them that a man would be reaching Assandh traffic intersection in Panipat with the turtles in his bag to be delivered to a middleman, who would then supply them in different parts of the state.
“The crime team officials were sent to the spot dressed in plain clothes. They waited for nearly half an hour and spotted a man crossing the intersection carrying a black bag. The policemen intercepted him and asked him to show his bag. However, he tried to flee from the spot. But, before he could do so, the officials caught him and took him to the police station. When we checked the bag, there were 63 turtles in a plastic net with cold water bottles were placed to surround the net,” said Kuhar.
During interrogation, the accused allegedly revealed that he has been involved in the business of smuggling exotic turtles for the past four years and has sold nearly 1,300 turtles in Haryana. He had bought these turtles for ₹65,000 and had planned to sell them for a cumulative sum of ₹1.5 lakh, said the police. He said he usually sells one turtle for anything between ₹2,000 and ₹3,500.
A case under sections 49, 31, 39, 44 and 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was registered at Panipat City police station. The wildlife officials informed a veterinary doctor, who conducted a medical test and gave a fitness certificate in the court, following which the turtles were released in Yamuna river in Navipur Ghat in Karnal.
Alwadhi said turtles are in much demand these days as people believe that they bring prosperity. “Many people buy turtles as they think their presence is auspicious and will bring them fortune in professional and personal matters,” he said.
The police said Sharma used to sell the animals to people in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. “The state has a huge market for the illegal sale of exotic turtles and tortoise and we have received information from the accused about the network of these illegal sales. We are currently working on the information and will share the details with the police so that arrests can soon be made,” said Alwadhi.
The wildlife officials said last week the Rewari police had arrested a man in possession of two turtles, which he had bought from Rajasthan.