Camel smuggling is on the increase across the Indian state of Maharashtra where they are much in demand for black magic rituals as a local election is taking place shortly.
The camels are much prized as offerings for the rituals as it is believed to have the power to give politicians an edge over their rivals in the upcoming assembly elections in the neighbouring state of Telangana.
Most of the camels originate in the state of Rajasthan which has strict rules on the transportation of the animals outside the region including guidelines on how they should be moved and slaughtered.
The smuggling has reportedly decimated the camel population with animal rights activists saying previous numbers of 800,000 had now been reduced to a mere 200,000 despite camels being given status of state animal in 2016.
Police confirm that in the latest raid, they had managed to discover 58 camels being smuggled along the Akola-Patur-Washim highway in Maharashtra where they were destined for illegal slaughter in black magic rituals.
The two suspected smugglers with the camels were arrested and are now being held in custody.
Cops say the number of camels that have been murdered illegally is however much higher and after realising the practice was going on had decided to clamp down on the smugglers activities.
They warned however that the 58 camels seized were probably only the tip of the hypes Berg, is election fever was creating huge demand for camels for the rituals. They added that the body parts and blood of the camel were a key part of the ritual.
Police estimate camel smuggling which also take place the meat is worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. The elections in the state of Telangana will take place on 7 December.