04 December, 2020

Shrouds Of Shame

Despite a worldwide ban on chiru hunting, shahtoosh shawls made from its wool continue to be a craze with high society

Shrouds Of Shame

On the evening of November 29, the Delhi police raided an auction at The Park Hotel and arrested two prominent art dealers: Neville Tuli, and Jagdish Mittal from Hyderabad. Their crime? Attempting to sell an antique AD 1800 shahtoosh shawl, priced at Rs 2-2.5 lakh. This is only the most recent-and most shocking-of a series of raids over the past year, in which several people, ranging from Kashmiri traders and UP middlemen, to two Canadian tourists, and the daughter of a London bank manager, have been arrested and kept in judicial custody for the illegal trading of shahtoosh in Delhi. Not just in India, but all over the world-in France, the US, the UK, Italy, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong and China-there’s been a massive crackdown. Following its proven linkage with large-scale poaching of chiru-a rare, highly-endangered antelope found only in Tibet and China-shahtoosh has become contraband, infra dig. "Shrouds of shame," as George Schaller, an expert on Tibetan fauna and a field biologist with the Wildlife Protection Society in New York, puts it.

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