The judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) on Saturday extended the forest custody remand of tiger poaching case accused Yarlen, belonging to the Baheliya community of Katni in Madhya Pradesh, till July 9.
Yarlen and his associate Barsul were arrested by Jabalpur forest officials and handed over to the state forest department for their links to tiger poaching cases in the region. The call detail reports from Yarlen's mobile phone has revealed that he had links with a Delhi-based agent Sarju who had procured tiger skins from poachers at Amdi and Bhandarbodi near Ramtek.
Yarlen is also close to three arrested tiger poachers Mamru, Siri and Chika. All the three claimed they killed tigers in Melghat area. But, Melghat forest officials, who should have been actively involved in the investigations, are either trying to save their skin or are not being involved. Not a single officer from Melghat has been taken in the five-member committee set by APCCF SS Mishra to probe tiger poaching cases as revealed by the arrested Baheliyas.
This is more shocking, specially in the backdrop of two Ranthambore tiger reserve officials visiting the city 1,200km away to explore links of poachers with tiger killings in their region. On Saturday, assistant conservator of forest (ACF) with Ranthambore Nandlal Prajapat and range forest officer (RFO) Rajinder Singh Kala submitted a letter from government to the JMFC through senior counsel for forest department MP Badar.
Badar told the court that if the accused Yarlen is granted MCR then the Ranthambore officials will face a problem in quizzing him. Remaining five accused have already been granted MCR till July 17. Meanwhile, instead of introspecting department's level of protection and coming clean on the issue, the senior forest officials have issued gag orders to investigating officials not to talk to the media on the issue.