By Vijay Pinjarkar
Nagpur: In a major setback to state forest department, notorious tiger skin trader and poacher from Haryana Dalbir Shrichand Bawaria was acquitted in trafficking of tiger skins by Kamptee judicial magistrate first class (JMFC). Dalbir's acquittal is likely to have negative fallout on cases against poachers being fought in Nagpur, Amravati and Umred.
Interestingly, the order comes just two days before chief judicial magistrate (CJM) is going to decide bail application of another tiger skin trader from Haryana Sarju Bagdi on November 28.
Dalbir (50) was arrested on November 21, 2013 by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), acting on a tip off from Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) from his native place Samlakha in Panipat district of Haryana.
Organized tiger skin trader from Haryana Sarju Bagdi alias Suraj Bhan, facing charges of trafficking five tiger skins from Amdi near Ramtek and presently lodged in Nagpur Central Jail, while talking to TOI and also in his confessional statement had said that he was not the only one to procure tiger skins from here.
Dalbir, Kalla, Kuttu, Sheru, Jagdish and Ranjit were among other traders who trafficked tiger skins from Ranala in Kamptee in 2012 and 2013. All were named as respondents in Kamptee case but only Ranjit has been arrested. Based on Sarju's statement, a preliminary offence report (POR) was registered against Dalbir.
However, Dalbir denied his role in trafficking tiger skins from Ranala, though admitting he was involved in transporting tiger skins from Sevagram near Wardha. He had even shown the spot where a poachers' camp belonging to Baheliya community from Katni was set up.
The first hearing in Dalbir case was held on April 15, 2014. The case was disposed of on November 24, 2014. As the investigating officials belonging to Nagpur forest division did not conduct a serious probe, Dalbir was acquitted. The Nagpur officials also did not obey chief wildlife warden Sarjan Bhagat's order to merge the Ranala POR with other cases being fought here and fight the case jointly. Finally, due to weak investigation the case was disposed of in seven months. Bhagat was not available for comments.
The forest department arrested at least 25 poachers but over 30 are still absconding. No efforts are being made either by the CBI or forest department to nab the absconders.
This is the first case wherein a tiger skin trader has been acquitted. Dalbir is wanted by CBI in another tiger skins and bones seizure case at Nagpur railway station in 2009. However, CBI is yet to take him up in the matter. Dalbir is also wanted in poaching of a tiger in Dhakna in Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR).