Activists and the police on Tuesday (2 October) rescued 52 camels in Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh while they were being taken for slaughter.
They caught two trucks with 18 camels each when they were paying toll tax and discovered that another had just passed from there a while back. One camel was found dead in the vehicle. The bypass was then barricaded by the police and the third truck was also intercepted. 16 camels were found stuffed in it.
The Chittorgarh police have arrested six men including Shakeel, Shakir, Zakar, Zakir and Wasim, all residents of Uttar Pradesh and Mewat region.
Animal activist Neha Patel, who tipped off the police about the illegal transportation of camels, told Swarajya that she came to know of the trucks from her "informers" that camels were smuggled from a fair at Rajasthan’s Didwana and were being taken to Madhya Pradesh’s Indore for slaughter. Once slaughtered in Indore, their meat would be supplied further.
Patel said that not many people know but camel’s meat is high in demand, particularly in cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore and even as far as Kerala. Maharashtra’s Aurangabad is another major city with high demand, said Patel, who has been actively preventing animal smuggling for slaughter since 2010.
What Patel says is corroborated by the Animal Welfare Board of India. A newspaper report published in February on camel smuggling in Rajasthan quoted senior board official Sudershan Kaushik as saying that "in the past few years, camels have been smuggled out of their natural desert habitat in Rajasthan, in and across the country for their meat".
Kaushik also said that in 2017 alone, the board helped rescue 700 camels that had been taken to various states like Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Karnataka and Assam for meat. Kaushik said camels are even smuggled out from West Bengal and taken to Bangladesh.
Patel told Swarajya that it's ironical that camel smuggling is rampant despite it being Rajasthan’s state animal and there being a ban on its transportation out of the state.
She said the camel’s status as state animal is just eyewash. "There is no effect of it on the ground as those caught are easily let off,” she said.
Not only is smuggling rampant but, rehabilitating rescued animals is also difficult in Rajasthan, she said. "We do not face issues rehabilitating rescued animals in Gujarat as we have panjra pols [shelter homes for animals] where animals are cared well. But there is nothing here,”’ she said. ‘We deliver animals to panjra pol within ten minutes of rescue in Gujarat but we have to drive for 50-100 kilometres in Rajasthan.”
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