By P. Naveen, Vijay Pinjarkar
Dreaded tiger poacher Keru Chiyalal Rajgond was dramatically arrested from his residence in Biruhali, 15km from Katni, by a team of Madhya Pradesh forest officials and its state police at 5am on Wednesday.
Keru was 54th on the list of 80 tiger poachers wanted by the Maharashtra forest department. In the last six months, 24 poachers have been arrested.
"Keru is a big catch for us. He is being interrogated in connection with one tiger allegedly poached from Balaghat area. His role in tiger poaching surfaced during interrogation of other poachers who are in custody in Nagpur," said Narendra Kumar, chief wildlife warden of Madhya Pradesh.
"For the past seven days we were working on intelligence provided by a Nagpur-based NGO working in wildlife law enforcement about Keru's presence in Biruhali. Led by RFO SK Sinha, a team then zeroed in on Keru," said Rajesh Kumar, chief conservator of forests (CCF) for Jabalpur Circle.
There were doubts over Keru's identity. However, Rajesh Kumar said his features like lips, nose, eyes and ears matched with Keru's 2009 picture available with them. The only change was that Keru had put on lot of weight, grown a moustache and was sporting long hair.
"Keru is not revealing his real name and identifying himself as Baburao, Govind and Makhan," said Kumar. However, he told officials how tigers are killed by poachers.
Maharashtra divisional forest officer (DFO) PD Masram, who is in Seoni to take custody of Keru, did not respond to calls. However, some officials confirmed that the arrested poacher is indeed Keru.
On September 26, Keru had given a slip to Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) officials and Andhra Pradesh police in a joint operation near Tirupati. In the same operation, Keru's brother Ajit was arrested and is under magisterial custody in Nagpur. More....