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A paramilitary soldier points to the recovered human skulls and bones displayed at the police station in Khoribari, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Siliguri, in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008. At least 70 human skulls were found inside two bags at a roadside hotel in a remote area near the India-Nepal border on Thursday, police said. (AP Photo/Tamal Roy)

Eight suspected bone smugglers were arrested in India for possessing 365 skeletal remains


Eight suspected bone smugglers in India have been arrested by police in the state of West Bengal after 365 bones were found in a village, according to CNN. The bones are believed to have been taken from decomposing bodies found in the state's rivers, said Ajay Sharma, the state's deputy police chief. 

"The bones had been cleaned with hydrogen peroxide for sale locally to doctors and medical colleges," he told CNN.

Bones were banned

In 1985, the Indian government outlawed the export of human remains after human rights groups had pressured officials, claiming the trade was unethical. Prior to the ban, India was the leading source of human skeletons used in medical colleges and labs across the globe.

A black market for bones emerged

The 1985 ban didn't end the trade of human corpses, however, and a black market in West Bengal began to thrive. 

The only legal way to obtain a human skeleton is through hospitals, but smugglers often find a way to circumvent the necessary paperwork.

Eight suspected bone smugglers were arrested in India for possessing 365 skeletal remains

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