NAGPUR: In a yet another breakthrough, a team of forest officials from Melghat and local police netted tiger skin and body parts trader Ranjitsingh Bawaria from Golukonda village in Vijayanagram district of Andhra Pradesh in the wee hours of Sunday. Two others who have been arrested include Jagdish and Sarabjit, who are said to be involved with Ranjit in poaching of tigers here. All were nabbed from a makeshift camp near the railway station.
Though senior forest officials confirmed Ranjit’s arrest, they were not so forthcoming about the details in view of the fiasco of Keru Rajgond’s arrest by MP forest department last month. Keru turned out to be Makhanlal Rajput.
Ranjit was nabbed on the basis of call detail records (CDR) by a team led by assistant conservator of forest (ACF) Vishal Mali and others from Melghat. Mali is also in charge of cyber cell operations in Amravati Circle.
Ranjit, a close associate of tiger skin trader Sansarchand, who is now lodged in Tihar Jail, is wanted for trafficking tiger skins from Maharashtra. He is also an accused in a poaching case of 2009 pending in a CBI court at Nagpur. Ranjit was involved in killing a tiger at Dhakna in Melghat Tiger Reserve.
Dalbir, another tiger skin trader arrested recently and lodged in Central Jail, is closely associated with Ranjit. In his confessional statement, Dalbir has said that Ranjit was the one who procured a skin from Sevagram last year. He is also said to have been involved in killing a tiger at Akot last year.
However, even as chief conservator of forests (CCF) Mohan Jha of Amravati, and DK Tyagi of Melghat Tiger Reserve are closely monitoring the arrest of Ranjit, their counterparts in Nagpur division are hesitating to take custody of the accused. This is despite the fact that the names of all three figure in Dalbir’s statements.
Ranjit is the fourth tiger skin trader after Suraj Pal alias Chacha, Sarju Bagdi, Naresh Lala and Dalbir to be arrested. Although official figures of tigers poached during last one year has touched 12, Sarju had told TOI that he was not alone in trafficking tiger skins from here, but Kallu, Katta, Sheru, Ranjit, Dalbir and others too were involved in smuggling skins and body parts.