Forest department arrests 3 more in whale shark case
The state mangrove cell arrested three more persons, including the trader and boat operators, in the recent case where the carcass of a whale shark was found cut up into pieces at Sassoon Dock in south Mumbai last week, taking the tally of offenders to five. All five accused will be presented before a metropolitan magistrate at Mumbai’s Esplanade (killa) court on Tuesday.
According to forest department, all persons involved in the case have been arrested including the trader - Krishna Vasant Buchade, 29 - who cut up the whale shark into pieces and boatmen Dilip Hari Sivakar, 40 and Gopinath Damodar Mhatre, 38 - who accidentally caught the marine animal in their net and left it at the fish landing centre at Sassoon Dock. While the boat operators belong to Kelvane village in Panvel, the trader is a resident of Machimar Nagar, Cuffe Parade.
Last week two others were arrested that helped the department identify others involved.
“With inputs from the fisheries department on details of the boat, its license and operations, information from the Mumbai Port Trust officers about the list of traders at Sassoon Dock, and details from the interrogation after the first two arrests, all helped us track persons involved,” said Suresh Warak, range forest officer (Mangrove Cell).
Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972. All five were arrested for violating various sections of WPA.
On August 12, the carcass of an approximately 20-foot-long dead female whale shark was caught by a fishing boat which was brought to Sassoon Dock. As authorities made their way to the spot, the shark was cut into pieces in an attempt to sell it to a distributor. At the time, the forest department had arrested - Jan Bahadur Yadav, 49 and Shamdhar Yadva, 31 - who had reached Sassoon dock to buy the remains of the whale shark and transport it using a tempo.