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Shahtoosh? Captain game!

The Statesman, New Delhi, 15th August, 2005

 

Punjab has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of declarations of animal skins/articles made under Schedules I and II of the wildlife Protection Act, courtesy its politicians and industrialists. Leading the pack is none other than the Punjab chief minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, and his family who hold the biggest chunk of Shahtoosh items declared from Punjab.

 

Of the 651-shahtoosh items (shawls) declared, close to 100 are said to be from the chief minister family alone. Inherited from royalty, these items have been tested for authenticity by the Punjab Wildlife Department, which has issued ownership certificates also. In the category of shahtoosh, other prominent persons who have been issued ownership certificates include the chief parliamentary secretary, youth and sports welfare, Mr Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, the food and supplies minister, Mr Avtar Henri, the Rajya Sabha member, and also Kumari Selja, who, despite belobging to Haryana, has sent her declaration to Punjab.

 

Illegal and undisclosed possession of articles made from endangered animals protected made from endangered animals protected under Schedules. I and II of the Wildlife Protection Act is an offence punishable with three years imprisonment. The Union government gave people the last chance to declare the articles so that their ownership could be legalized. In Punjab, total declaration made till date, were 452, of which only 284 cases have been processed and 125 ownership certificates issued. Unlike Haryana and Chandigarh, the Punjab does not have a foolproof system of checking animal articles.