New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: In a bone-chilling incident, a rare Gangetic dolphin was beaten to death with sticks and axes by three men in Uttar Pradesh's Pratapgarh district last month.

The horrific video of the incident has now gone viral on social media, following the police arrested the three accused and sent them to jail. The Gangetic dolphin, which is recognised as the National Aquatic Animal, is an endangered species.

"Let it go, you are assaulting it for no reason," a person can be heard while the three accused attacked the Gangetic dolphin near the Sharda canal of the village.

The police have said that an investigation and the body of the dolphin has been sent for post mortem. It said that three men mistook the dolphin for a "deadly fish".

"In an unfortunate incidents a Gangetic Dolphin got killed by locals in Pratapgarh district of UP. Locals thought the species a ‘Fish’ which may be dangerous for their lives. Wildlife awareness is much needed for conservation," said IFS officer Ramesh Pandey in a Tweet on January 2.

Here it is noteworthy to mention that killing a Gangetic dolphin is a punishable offence under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Meanwhile, forest officials have refused to comment on the incident, which took place on December 31 last year, saying that it "was yet to be verified if it was actually a dolphin".

Throwing light on the incident, news agency IANS reported that the dolphin was spotted in the river on December 31 last year. Sources, quoted by IANS, said that some people thought that the dolphin was actually a "deadly and poisonous fish" and could kill people who went near it.

"A huge crowd collected at the spot and people decided that it would be dangerous to let it go. The crowds started beating the dolphin and some even hit with an axe," IANS sources as saying.

The sources further told IANS that the water gate of the canal had been closed and the water level had receded.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year had announced Project Dolphin to conserve Gangetic river dolphins, saying it will give a boost to biodiversity and create employment opportunities.

The Ganges river dolphin is a species of freshwater dolphins primarily found in the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers and their tributaries in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

In India, these dolphins are sighted in long deep river reaches in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

As per official figures, there are about 3,700 Gangetic river dolphins in the Indian river systems.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma