Raid yields turtles, baffles Punjab authorities

Raid yields turtles, baffles Punjab authorities

Representative image

While liquor, cash, gold and drugs seizures galore during elections, authorities concerned stumbled upon an unusual cache in Punjab this poll season: protected species of living turtles. The discovery left the raiding party flummoxed. 

Not one, but as many as 11 turtles were confiscated from the house of a municipal councillor of Tanda in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur. These species of turtles, sources said, are included in the Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and accorded the highest protection under the statute. Tigers, lions and leopards also fall in the same category of protection under provisions of the Act. 

According to sources, the raids were conducted a few days ago as a routine following a tip-off to check hoarding and distribution of liquor during polls. An FIR has been registered against a woman named Bachni, a relative of the councillor. A probe is underway to establish the motive behind keeping protected turtles at home. 

The accused has reportedly told the police that she was suffering from a disease and the flesh of turtles was used as a treatment for personal consumption. Poaching of turtles for meat, treatment under Chinese medicine and for keeping as pets is not uncommon. 

The 11 turtles were released in the wetland of the Beas river in Punjab after a nod from the court. Had they been kept as case property till the issue was resolved, they would have perished.

Sources said any information that may lead to a possible poaching racket active in the area will be essential to the probe. The source where the turtles were procured will also remain an essential part of the investigation.