New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) made a major seizure of 26 shahtoosh shawls from a shop in a downtown five-star hotel here yesterday, according to official sources here.

The sources said that the high quality shahtoosh shawls were seized from Shaw Brothers, a shop in a five-star hotel here. Both the shopkeepers were arrested and produced before a magistrate today. Most of the shawls seized were high-quality shahtoosh though some could be mixture of shahtoosh and pashmina. Even a small percentage of shahtoosh in a shawl will render it illegal, they said.

Expressing concern over continued availability of shahtoosh shawls in North India, specially New Delhi, Mr Vivek Menon, Executive Director of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) said, “It is extremely unfortunate that despite having upgraded the Tibetan Antelope to Schedule I in the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, the government of Jammu and Kashmir has taken no steps to implement their own Act.” WTI had assisted CBI in making this seizure.

The CBI had made a seizure of nine shahtoosh shawls from a residence in South Delhi’s posh Greater Kailash-I area on December 17, 2002. The shawls had been seized from one Nisar Khan, owner of Cute Carpets Emporium. The raid was conducted by a Special Investigation Unit of the CBI.

Shahtoosh shawls are made from the wool of the Tibetan antelope, an endangered species according the highest protection in the country by the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Even the government of state of Jammu and Kashmir, the only production centre of the shawl, has amended its laws and accorded full protection to the Tibetan antelope.