By Vijay Pinjarkar
Are the forest officials fed up with prolonged probe in tiger poaching cases? It seems so from the fact they are now no longer seeking custody of the accused.
On Thursday, the investigating officer (IO) in the Ghatang (Melghat) tiger killing case did not seek extension of forest custody remand (FCR) of two accused involved in poaching. Arkaas (24) and Bandariya (22), who were arrested on October 28 from Pune, were brought to Nagpur in connection of poaching of tiger at Masondi in Ghatang range of east Melghat. Arkaas was the one who pierced a spear in tiger's mouth after it was ensnared in steel trap laid by poachers.
Both accused were produced in the court of judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) RB Raja on December 6. Looking into the key role the two played, the court had granted forest custody (FCR) till December 12. However, when the duo were produced in the court, further FCR was not sought.
On December 6, while seeking FCR of the accused, special counsel for the forest department Kartik Shukul had said that there was need to prepare sketches and portraits of other suspects involved with accused help, besides spot verification and identification of other accused lodged in jail.
While spot verification and identification was done, sketches were not prepared. Yet, on Thursday FCR of the accused was not sought despite the fact that custody of 10-12 days could have been sought. Similar was the case with arrested tiger skin trader (a carrier) Dalbir, whose custody was sought for only five days. He revealed about transporting two tiger skins.
A senior officer monitoring the poaching probe said, "This is Arkaas second custody here after Melghat. Besides, there was no seizure after spot verification. We had no option but to seek MCR."
Arkaas has confessed to killing two tigers last year - one in Akot and another in Masondi (Ghatang). As per poachers, two tigers, two leopards and a sloth bear were killed in Ghatang range in East Melghat division alone.
Forest employees' union leader Siraj Patel alleged officials were not able to extract information from the poachers, who were lying on the number of tigers poached. There was more to poaching than being portrayed. Moreover, tigers killed in the last two-three years were also not being considered at all. More....