Three youths have been arrested by the Pratapgarh Police for allegedly killing a Gangetic dolphin — an endangered mammal that is the national aquatic animal — last month.
The accused were arrested on Thursday after a video of the incident went viral. In the clip, some people were seen beating the river dolphin to death using sticks and axes, while others were heard saying they would have a “big feast”.
The police are now looking for others involved in killing the animal that was found in the Sharda canal. They have identified one of the arrested youths as Anuj (20). The other two share the same name, Rahul. One of them is 19 years old, while the other one is a year older. All three are residents of the Unchahar area of Rae Bareli district, which shares its border with Pratapgarh.
“On December 31, we got a complaint from the Gram Pradhan of Kotharia village that the carcass of an animal has been found on the embankment of Sharda canal. We rushed to the spot and later officials of the local administration and the forest department also reached there,” said Nawabganj Station House Officer (SHO) Akhilesh Pratap Singh. The area where the dolphin was found comes under the Nawabganj station’s jurisdiction.
Following a complaint by forest department officials, an FIR was lodged against unidentified people under sections 9 and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
SHO Singh said, “Later, a video of the incident surfaced and we were able to identify the three accused, who have been arrested. We are searching for the others. The three arrested persons were present at the spot for fishing in the canal.”
The dolphin carcass had injury marks. In the video, at least seven people were seen beating the animal to death. As some said they would have a “big feast”, others tried to dissuade them from killing the animal.
District Forest Officer Varun Singh told The Indian Express, “It was an adult Gangetic dolphin and is an endangered species. This is for the first time that a dolphin has been found in the canal here. While they usually move in deep waters, we do not know how it entered the canal. We have also searched for other dolphins in the Sharda canal, but could not find any.”
He added, “We are investigating the entire incident and will soon send a report to the government to ensure that such an incident is not repeated.”
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