NAGPUR: The two accused, who were arrested with 96 black pond turtles from Nagpur railway station on Monday evening, were on Tuesday granted forest custody remand (FCR) till June 15. These species of turtles are listed under Schedule I (Part II) of Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Brabas Rangaraju (25) and Shivkumar Reddy (28) from Siddhagudda in Karnataka were arrested by the Government Railway Police (GRP) from S9 coach of New Delhi-Puduchery Express.
As the crime pertains to violation of Wildlife Protection Act 1972, the duo was handed over to the forest department. SS Kolankar, Seminary Hills range forest officer (RFO) who is also investigating the case, produced the accused before judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) DS Parwani, who remanded them to FCR till June 15.
The accused said they were handed over these turtles by one of the traders in Jhansi. They were paid Rs5,000 each to traffic the turtles to Guddur in Andhra Pradesh. From Guddur, some other person was to take possession of the consignment.
Flight tickets from Chennai to Lucknow were found in the possession of the accused. The duo told forest officials that a person from Lucknow handed over the turtles to them in Jhansi. Of the 96 turtles, 14 had died while one died on Tuesday.
Kolankar demanded at least 15 days custody as matter pertains to four states and probe teams will have to be sent to Chennai, Lucknow, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh.
"Two teams have been formed. The turtles are not likely to survive here and hence we have decided to release them in Ganga river which may be their original habitat," said Kolankar.
This is for the first time the forest department is investigating a wildlife criminal case related to turtles, which has international ramifications.