By Vijay Pinjarkar
NAGPUR: On the World Wildlife Day, Kuttu Chhiyalal Rajgond (35), a notorious poacher involved in killing of two tigers in Khumari near Mansinghdeo Wildlife Sanctuary in Nagpur division and one at Tumsar was dramatically arrested in a village of Katni district, MP, on Tuesday.
With Kuttu's arrest, the number of arrested poachers and others involved has gone up to 37. Kuttu was arrested by a joint team of CBI and wildlife crime cell (WCC), Melghat, in the wee hours. The accused, who will be in CBI custody, is being brought to Nagpur on transit remand by the team on Tuesday night. He will be produced in the court on Wednesday.
Having information that poachers gather at their native place to celebrate Holi, which falls on March 6, the joint team of forest and CBI officials with the help of Katni police and zeroed in on Biruhali, a village in Rithi tehsil in Katni district of Madhya Pradesh around 5.30am.
Sources said team had actually gone to nab Keru, brother of tiger poacher Ajit, Kuttu and Sheru, all involved in killing tigers in the region. While Keru and Sheru escaped, Kuttu was nabbed. Ajit is in Nagpur Central Jail. Keru and Sheru are still absconding. Ajit and Keru had sold two skins from Umred to Sarju.
Sources said high drama was witnessed as women pelted stones on the raiding party in which a couple of forest officials were injured. The team braved the hostile situation and fired at Keru and Sheru but they managed to escape.
Sources said police fired some rounds in air and Kuttu was swiftly moved out of the area. Rithi police station officials said they had no information about the incident. Katni superintendent of police (SP) Gourav Rajput was not available for comments.
Kuttu and arrested poacher Raslal were involved in killing of two tigers, one of them is suspected to be 'Rashtrapati' of Nagzira. The tiger skins were among the 11 from the region trafficked by Suraj Bhan alias Sarju from Haryana and his aide Naresh Lala to Delhi. Raslal was caught by CBI and Melghat officials on October 1, from the outskirts of Satara in Western Maharashtra. A steel trap and hunting gear were seized from him. Raslal and Kuttu's name figures in confession statement of poachers Mamru and Chika, arrested in June 2013.
Sarju, who is now in Central Jail, had said he was not the only one to procure skins from here. Dalbir, Kalla, Kaaua, Sheru, Keru, Kuttu and others were also involved in the illegal trade.
POACHING STORY SO FAR
* Nabbed So Far & Status: Ajit, Sarju, Bandariya, Siri, Minar, Lupustan, Nirafal, Srival, Mamru, Arjun, Arkas, Chika, Suraj Pal, Ranjit Bawaria, Bhajan, Raslal, Ujiyar. All are lodged in jail.
* Released: Yarlen, Barsul, Jiyalal, Parman, Shoberam,
* Still At Large: Naresh Lala, Madhu, Pansari, Luchi, Bharo, Sheru, Keru, Kalla, Kaaua, Phasang, Laddu, Natki, Sango, Naram, Arsana, Bharad, Tilia, Shirival, Langaria, Guddi, Rockin, Jeher, Kalu.
* Number of tigers poached according to forest dept: Officials have registered 15 preliminary offence reports (PORs), indicating that many number of tigers were poached.
* No of tigers poached as per TOI sources: Sarju says he trafficked 5 tiger skins, but TOI learns he trafficked 11. Six from Bhandarbodi were not taken on record by officials. If 15 PORs and 11 transported by Sarju are concerned, the figure comes to 26.