By P. Naveen
BHOPAL: Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) officers have received on Monday a 'positive' ballistic report of a 12 bore rifle seized from a gang of poachers accompanied by nephew of state animal husbandry minister Kusum Mehdele, who is on the run after he was booked for on the charge of poaching.
Five people, including the minister's kin, Mahendra Singh, and a policeman were booked for poaching Chinkara (Indian gazelle) near PTR on January 20. Experts at state forensic science laboratory (FSL) Sagar confirmed that at least two shots were fired from the12 bore double barrel rifle, which belongs to Mahendra Singh and was seized by PTR from his servant.
While four were arrested with a 12 bore rifle, cartridges, wireless set and crude bombs in their possession, Mahendra Singh, manage to escape with his 315 bore rifle.
One of the accused named Mahendra Singh as owner of the seized 12 bore rifle. This was verified from the police records, said sources.
"Ballistic report suggests that shots were fired from the 12 bore rifle of Mahendra Singh, which he was using despite expiry of his license," said a forest officer wishing anonymity. PTR officials have constituted a special team to arrest the minister's nephew.
Meanwhile, a local court in Panna district cancelled his application for an anticipatory bail following objections from the PTR staff. The accused were intercepted in a van during an anti-poaching drive, said a forest officer. He said other than the weapons, three mobile phones, search lights, some bones of unidentified wild animals and chemicals used for making explosives were also confiscated from them. The bones seized from their vehicle have also been sent for forensic examination.
The arrested were identified as Saleem Gaffar, Mustakeem Khan, Hasan Khan and Chote Singh, residents of Panna district. Hasan is constable.