GUWAHATI, Dec 2 - In the biggest seizure of its kind in the country, a joint operation by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) Guwahati and Guwahati Forest Range office seized a huge quantity of marine life products (mostly sea fans) besides musk pods, porcupine spikes, and other animal body parts from several locations, including the famed Shakti shrine of Kamakhya Temple, in the city.
Three persons have been arrested in this connection.
Significantly, this is the first time that marine products have been seized in the Northeast � a region far away from coasts of the country. The first raid conducted at Ganeshguri Lakhi Mandir seized 600 pieces of sea fans (enlisted in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972). A person, Rahul Choudhary, was arrested and based on his confession, another raid was conducted at two places of a market area of Kamakhya Temple in which 29 kg of sea fans were seized from the possession of Jitendra Saha.
Other seizures there included 5 kg sea fan from Santosh Gupta, 14 pieces of suspected musk pod, 1.5 kg porcupine spikes, 43 pieces of Hathjora, and several unidentified animal body parts.
Sea fans look a lot like plants with colourful, forked �branches� but they are actually animals, just like their relatives, the corals and jellies. Sea fans are colonial animals made up of many tiny, individual animals that work together as one.
�This is the biggest marine products seizure in the country till date and we believe a big gang of smugglers is at work. Investigation is on and we hope to shed more light on the nefarious activities,� a WCCB sleuth said.
He said that it was extremely surprising how the sale of banned products could go on under the eyes of the administration and the police at Kamakhya Temple.
The operation was lead by Pankaj Kumar Borah, Range Officer, Guwahati Range and Hiten Borah of WCCB Guwahati.