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An IPS Officer Goes About Rescuing Rare Turtles

In a record seizure of its kind in Uttar Pradesh, IPS officer Akash Tomar has busted a gang of poachers involved in trapping and selling Indian Flapshell Turtles, a rare and protected species.
Indian Masterminds Stories

A successful IPS office goes beyond the call of his or her duty. And when this happens, the results are often spectacular. A recent case in point is the record seizure of over 2,000 rare turtles from a band of smugglers in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh. The entire operation late last week was carried out under the supervision of the Senior Superintendent of Police Mr Akash Tomar.

Not only were the turtles rescued, the police teams also arrested five alleged poachers.

Speaking with The Indian Masterminds, Mr Tomar said they were working on reliable information. The police laid down the trap for the poachers in tandem with the forest department and the Society for Conservation of Nature (SCON).

The massive seizure, the biggest of its kind in Uttar Pradesh, has come under-appreciation from all sides. Among the first to join the applause was the Union Environment Minister Mr. Prakash Javadekar.

Appreciation from Mr. Prakash Javedkar

This rescued turtle, Indian Flapshell Turtles(Lissemys punctata), which is categorized as Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is a freshwater species and is mostly found in Southern Asia. The police nabbed the smugglers with 2,583 turtles and more than 30 kg of dried turtle calipee worth around ₹1 crore, which they were planning to sell in the international market.

INFORMATION LEADING TO THE SMUGGLERS

Giving details, Mr. Tomar said they received reliable information that a huge consignment of turtles was going to be transported outside the district. Acting on the tip-off, the police force comprising of all station in-charges and even the magistrate came out in the area and started checking rigorously.

Meanwhile, inputs came from Saifai police station that some unknown miscreants will load the truck with a huge number of turtles and will head towards Jaswantnagar from Karhal. Acting  quickly, the police team reached the ‘Dumila border’ where all vehicles coming from Karhal were checked thoroughly.

The smugglers stuck to their plan as they were unaware of the information that had already reached the police team. Soon the police saw the truck and a Maruti van behind it, headed from Karhal, and were approaching the Dumila border.

THE SEIZURE

As the truck driver felt suspicious, he stopped the truck and fled from the location. The police force immediately approached the targeted vehicles and caught five people. After inspecting the truck, the police found out that they had successfully caught the accused and rescued a large number of turtles.

Mr. Tomar said, “This is a big achievement by the Etawah police force, the forest department and the SCON as the seizure is probably one of the biggest in Etawah.”

According to Mr. Tomar, out of 2,583 Indian Flapshell turtles rescued, two were found dead. More than 30 kg of dried turtle calipee was found and after searching the accused, illegal weapons and knives were also seized from them.

More than 30 kg dried turtle calipee seized

The police interrogated the five arrested people and found out that all of them had been indulging in catching turtles from Saman Bird Sanctuary Mainpuri in UP, as also from Bihar. They would then sell off the turtles to buyers at different places, according to the demand. That day too, they were headed with the turtles towards Bareilly district.

5 smugglers arrested by Etawah police

All the five accused have been sent to the Saifai jail and have been booked under section 9,39,48,50, 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act and section 26 and 52 of the Indian Forest Act. They have also been charged under section 25 of the Arms act. They have been identified as Sumit, Suresh, Kali Charan, Jagdish, and Kaptan Singh.

STOPPING ILLEGAL FISHING IN THE MARINE SANCTUARY

Said Mr. Tomar, “There is a marine sanctuary here where these Indian flapshell turtles, gharials, and crocodiles are found. It is a restricted area and the police in coordination with the forest department ensure that illegal fishing does not take place so that these species have adequate food to eat. There is specific timing in the year where fishing is allowed, and only after procuring the licence. Other than that there are some endemic species in the sanctuary for which we have to especially ensure that illegal activities like poaching and selling them in the international market is not done. Our main focus is to coordinate with people in the forest department and ensure that animals are protected.”

Following the successful completion of the operation, completed, Mr. Tomar also awarded the raiding team with a cash prize of Rs 25,000.


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