The Crime Branch, which has been assigned the probe into back-to-back killing of tuskers in Sambalpur in January last, made a headway and arrested two members of the poaching racket from remote forest pockets of Jamankira on Saturday.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the CB along with Sambalpur and Deogarh police arrested Bhika Lohura (48) and Jhina Badhei (40) belonging to Kulchipadadihi village of Deogarh’s Riamal police limits. From their possession, the cops seized explosives as well as raw materials required for gun-making.
They were produced before the SDJM Court at Kuchinda. The Crime Branch has secured their remand for seeking details into the poaching operations. Along with Bhika and Jhina, a third accused will be in CB remand for three days beginning Sunday, Additional Director General of CB BK Sharma said. Preliminary investigation revealed that while Bhika was directly involved in the poaching and manufactured the rifles used in the killings, Jhina supplied raw materials. They formed the front of the racket and were entrenched deep in the forests. Bhika killed the elephants, removed the ivory and disposed them. “We need to know the modus operandi, disposal of ivories so as to understand the marketing link as well as the source of the arms, ammunition and explosives,” Sharma added.
Meanwhile, the Wildlife Wing, which has been struggling to gather intelligence on poachers in the State, has decided to set up a toll-free number seeking real-time information from the public about incidence of poaching in the State.
The move came after three tuskers were shot dead in Bamra and Dhama forests of Sambalpur in January and in all cases the tusks were missing.
When Sambalpur Forest Division cracked down, it arrested three persons and seized customised jeep, huge volumes of ammunition as well as navigational gadgets.
Subsequently, the Forest and Environment Department asked the Crime Branch to probe into the incidents and a seven-member SIT was formed.
Since the wildlife crime cell has virtually been dormant in the Wildlife Wing in absence of manpower, the Forest and Environment Department has asked the Chief Wildlife Warden to put in place the toll-free number.
Special Secretary Debabrata Swain, in a letter to CWW SS Srivastava, has directed that a register has to be maintained for keeping record of the calls and actions taken by the wing.
■ Police arrested Bhika Lohura (48) and Jhina Badhei (40) belonging to Kulchipadadihi village of Deogarh’s Riamal police
■ Bhika was involved in poaching and manufacturing rifles, while Jhina supplied raw materials.