NAGPUR: Close on the heels of a local court rejecting bail application of international tiger skin and body parts trader Suraj Pal alias Chacha last week, an accused Madhu Sawalkar, wanted in connection with Ghatang (Melghat) tiger poaching case, has applied for anticipatory bail.
The bail application by Madhu was filed through his lawyer Yogesh Satpute in last week of December. The application will come up for hearing before district and additional sessions judge SD Jagmalani on Tuesday. Forest department sources said Madhu is absconding since August last and is wanted in connection with poaching of two tigers, two leopards and a sloth bear last year in Masondi in Ghatang range of East Melghat division.
"Melghat officials had carried out raids at Masondi but the accused gave a slip each time," said senior forest officials. They said Madhu is not directly involved in poaching but he is the one who informed the Baheliya poachers regarding presence of tigers, brought them to Masondi and harboured them in his house.
Madhu passed on information to poachers after learning about animal movement in Masondi forests. The poachers laid steel trap and killed the tigers. He used to get handsome amount for sharing information.
Lupustan, one of the dreaded poachers now lodged in jail, had admitted that last year two tigers, two leopards and a sloth bear were killed in Masondi. As leopards skins are not in demand in international market, these animals were thrown in the valley after getting trapped. The fact has also been told before the court in earlier hearings.
This is for the first time that Masondi case was cracked. Arrest of Madhu will throw light on how many animals must have been killed in Masondi and other areas in the past few years and also the modus operandi of poachers. Madhu seems to be a hardened criminal as he is the first one to apply for anticipatory bail. The forest department through their special counsel Kartik Shukul has opposed the plea and demanded that the accused be produced before the court.