The sleuths of the local crime branch (LCB) of Bharuch district, on Monday, arrested seven persons for allegedly running illegal shrimp farms in Aliya Bet at Kaladara village.
With this, those arrested in connection with the January 14 riots at Hansot village has gone up to nine, police said.
Police have also recovered water pumps from them which was used to draw water from the Narmada river to their alleged illegal shrimp ponds.
The arrested accused have been identified as as Kiran Patel, Dharmesh Kharwa, Ritesh Patel, Nainesh Kharwa, Hitesh Morkar, Jitendra Patel and Nimesh Morker, all residents of Surat city and native of Morbhagwa village in Olpad taluka of Surat district.
Illegal shrimp farming in Aliya Bet region is the “root cause” of frequent communal clashes in and around Hansot and Ambheta villages. Three persons were killed and many commercial outlets, residences and agriculture fields were damaged by the rioters on January 14, police said.
Following the communal clashes, Bharuch district collector ordered a survey on the shrimp ponds thriving on encroached government lands. During the survey, the officials had found over 1,300 illegal shrimp ponds on the Revenue Survey No 1 land at Kaladhara village. With the help of police, the district administration started demolishing 1,300 illegal shrimp ponds. And also cracked down on some notorious persons collecting protection money from shrimp farm owners.
In all four police complaints were lodged with the Dahej Marine Police Station by the officials of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), Fisheries Department, Mines & Minerals Department and Revenue Department in this regard.
Bharuch District Superintendent of Police, Bipin Ahire, had transferred the investigation of these cases to the LCB. And recently, LCB officials had arrested two persons — Rahul Bhagwakar and Nilesh Patel — residents of Morbhagwa village of Olpad taluka for allegedly running 28 illegal shrimp ponds in Aliya Bet region of Kaladhara village.
Bharuch LCB police inspector V R Malhotra said, “Till now, we have arrested nine persons in connection with the shrimp ponds. There are many more (illegal) ponds in the area. After interrogating the arrested persons, we will make further arrests in this connection.”