By Vijay Pinjarkar
NAGPUR: Four tigers could have been saved from falling prey to poaching in Masondi in East Melghat Division if informer Madhu Sawalkar had turned down the paltry 200 offered by poachers last year. However, Madhu not only accepted the money from poachers to show them tiger spots but also helped them by providing shelter.
The revelation came during arguments in the court of judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) AY Borkar on Tuesday while hearing bail application of Madhu, a poacher-informer and harbourer.
Defence counsel Yogesh Satpute pleaded that Madhu was innocent and was being falsely implicated in the case. He said no incriminating material has been seized from Madhu. His only crime was that he told poachers that tigers frequented a water body in April-May last near Masondi.
However, countering Satpute, special counsel for forest department Kartik Shukul read out summary of confession statements of over a dozen arrested accused in which name of Madhu figures as an informer and helper. He also argued that Madhu was not a law-abiding citizen and was absconding for 14 days prior to surrendering before the court after his anticipatory bail plea was rejected.
Shukul also read out Madhu's confession statement stating that when he was grazing cattle in the forest in Masondi, he saw two suspects moving at a spot near a temple. "When the suspects moved away, I went near the spot and noticed a steel trap in the grass. I picked up the trap but was later stopped by three youths who were Mamru, Chika and Pansari. They offered me 200 to give back the trap," says Madhu's statement.
Madhu confessed that Mamru, Chika, Pansari, Luchi, Bharo and Siri later offered him drinks and befriended him and told that they killed tigers by laying such steel traps. Madhu also confessed that he used to procure handmade explosives bombs from the accused to kill wild boars intruding his farm.Once Madhu had killed two wild boars and sold meat for 30 per kg to locals. The poachers had laid two traps in Masondi in Madhu's presence, who had also aided them.
"Only one trap has been seized. Madhu may be knowing where the second trap is hidden. If released he may tamper with evidence," argued Shukul. The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, has already revealed that it is not one but four tigers were poached in Masondi at the same spot. After an hour's arguments, the court reserved the order on Madhu's bail plea for Saturday.