June 2007 News

To Check Illegal Trade In Shahtoosh, Microchip Tags For All Registered J&K Products

24 June 2007
The Indian Express

Srinagar: Legal Shahtoosh products from Jammu and Kashmir can now be identified anywhere in the world. The Wildlife department has tagged microchips to 953 Shahtoosh products, carrying the registration number, user code and dimension details. This move, Wildlife officials maintain, will check illegal trade of Shahtoosh products, made from the wool of the endangered Chiru or Tibetan antelope. 'Any person who came forward for inventory of his or her Shahtoosh shawl or garment was issued a digital ownership certificate,' said Rashid Yahya, Wildlife Warden and In-Charge Shahtoosh Inventory, Srinagar. 'Electronic transponders weighing less than a gram and one centimetre long have been affixed to these Shahtoosh products. And the process is complete now.' The department registered 953 Shahtoosh shawls and products in Jammu and Kashmir. Of these, 464 products were from Srinagar and 489 from Jammu. No Shahtoosh product from Ladakh has been legalised. 'Except for these 953, other Shahtoosh products from J&K will now be deemed illegal,' said Chief Wildlife Warden A K Srivastava. 'Any person found with a Shahtoosh shawl without this digital tag and ownership certificate will be construed as having committed an offence and can face imprisonment up to six years,' he said. The digital tag is tamperproof. The Wildlife department will also have a record of secret codes of shawl- owners to stop fake chips from being attached to products. The shawl- owners were, in fact, asked by the Wildlife department to fill several documents before being issued ownership certificates, carrying the digital tag codes. Owners were asked for details like dimensions of the shawl, weight and how it was obtained. The Wildlife department later carried out spot verification of the garment, took a photograph which was then digitally transferred to the ownership certificate. Registration of Shahtoosh products by the Wildlife department was initiated on the directions of the Supreme Court. The aim was to implement a blanket ban on Shahtoosh articles and check its illegal trade. Shahtoosh trade was banned by the J&K government after animal rights activists protested, saying Shahtoosh wool was obtained from Chiru, a Tibetan antelope, only after it was killed. A public interest litigation was also filed against the Shahtoosh trade in the Supreme Court.


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