Crime Branch arrests man in tortoise smuggling case
17 June 2018

India: Crime branch of Indore police on Friday arrested a man, who had been on run in a case of critically endangered Indian star tortoises smuggling and keeping them at his home.
Police said that they had received a tip-off about the whereabouts of 32-year-old Neeraj Sharma. Sharma had been on run in a case lodged by forest department. Based on the specific information, police arrested him from Martand Chowk in Rambagh.
During questioning, Neeraj said that the tortoises were being used in occult activities and for vastu issues. He had got two tortoises from one of his friends and was keeping them in an iron cage on the terrace of his house.
Police said that a team of special task force (STF) of the wildlife wing of forest department raided the residence of Sharma. The tortoises were brought to Navlakha range office from where they were sent to Indore zoo.
The reptiles are fully grown with size of one-ft. They are five-year-old.

Star tortoise is placed under Schedule IV of Wildlife (Protection) Act and is among the most commonly reared animal as pet. It is also a highly endangered species of reptile.

While the family members had claimed that the turtles had been given to him by someone known, police said that he was a smuggler and dealt in the endangered species.

The crime branch officials said that Sharma works as a property broker and had bought the tortoises one year ago from a peddler in Goa. He was rearing them at his home.

“He surrendered before the crime branch police who then informed us about the case. He was produced before a local court from where he was sent to jail,” deputy ranger TR Hatila said.

(Source: The Times of India)