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HVK Archives: Kashmir militancy is funded through hahtoos' smuggling

Kashmir militancy is funded through hahtoos' smuggling - The Times of India

Posted By Krishnakant Udavant (kkant@bom2.vsnl.net.in)
May 30, 1998

Title: Kashmir militancy is funded through hahtoos smuggling
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 30, 1998

Police have unearthed a major racket which indulged in smuggling
of precious shahtoos shawls and used the proceeds for funding
militant activities in Kashmir.

As many as 46 pieces of shahtoos shawls and a scarf worth crores
of rupees. in international market, were seized and one person
was arrested. Each shawl costs anything between Rs 80,000 to
300,000 in international market. The police are on the lookout
for more people involved in the racket.

Deputy commissioner of police, special cell, Ashok Chand told
reporters here on Friday that the police, while verifying the
movement of Kashmiri militants in Delhi, got information about
the sale of shahtoos shawls by some Kashmiris,

There were also unconfirmed reports that Kashmiri militants had
set up commercial bases in Kathmandu for allegedly raising funds
for insurgency in Kashmir partly through shahtoos and other
wildlife trade.

Mr Chand said a large portion of the shahtoos from Tibet is
smuggled to Kashmiri production houses in Srinagar via Nepal or
even Pakistan.

The DCP said that following information that a business house
trans-Asian industries exposition at Hauz Khas in south Delhi was
engaged in illegal sale of shahtoos shawls, a deal was struck on
Thursday night through a decoy customer posing himself as a non-
resident Indian.

A trap was laid and 46 shawls and a scarf were seized. The
manager of the business house has been arrested. During
interrogation he revealed that the business house is owned by an
NRI, Y. Mir. The sale is done in a clandestine and secretive
manner and the sellers are very selective about the buyer.

Shahtoos is an undercoat or down wool of the endangered Tibetan
antelope 'chiru'. It is extracted by shearing or combing the
hides of dead chirus. One animal yields about 125 to 150 gm of
shahtoos. In the present case about 140 chirus could have been
killed, Mr Chand disclosed.

'Chiru' is protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,
and all hunting and trade is banned.

Executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India,
Ms Belinda Wright, an NGO which assisted the police in the case,
said shahtoos smuggled from Tibet to Srinagar is bartered for
tiger bones which are used by the Chinese for preparing
traditional medicines. f remained unchecked, one can expect
increase in the killing of chirus and tigers in future for
business purposes."

Ms Belinda, who was also present at the press conference, said
this was the second major haul of shahtoos shawls in recent
times. The earliest known seizure of shahtoos in India was in
June 1993, when 100 kg raw shahtoos wool was confiscated at
Raxaul on the Indo-Nepal border. On May 7, three shawls were
confiscated at the Indira Gandhi international airport.

Mr Chand and Ms Belinda said the contraband is bartered and taken
out of Tibet through a number of border crossings into India and
Nepal. Shahtoos is known to have been brought into Nepal by road
concealed inside gasolene tanks and stuffed into sleeping bags
and mattresses of jackets.

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