Telangana

Poaching informants were con artists?

Sleuths of Ramagundam Police Commissionerate, who took over investigation of recent tiger poaching in Mancherial, with the tiger skin.

Sleuths of Ramagundam Police Commissionerate, who took over investigation of recent tiger poaching in Mancherial, with the tiger skin.   | Photo Credit: NagaraGopal/TheHindu

Poachers fell for money-multiplying ritual promised by the informants

In a strange twist to the sensational Royal Bengal Tiger poaching case reported in second week of January, the operators of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) turned out to be suspects of trickery.

Persons claiming to be members of self-styled Tiger Hunting End Association, an NGO based in Chandrapur of Maharashtra, ‘tipped off’ the Forest Department officials about a gang offering to sell tiger’s hide. This resulted in seizure of a tiger’s skin and eventually blew the lid off the killing of a male adult tiger aged about four years by the poachers on the outskirts of Shivaram village in Jannaram mandal.

The Forest officials arrested four persons in this regard. They have been remanded in judicial custody and lodged in prison now. The tiger hide and nails are being sent to the forensic science laboratory for examination. Just when Forest officials were feeling elated on a successful raid based on informants’ inputs, the poachers dropped a bombshell saying that the informants were not innocent. “In fact, they decamped with ₹ 6.5 lakh collected from us when the Forest officials raided the place where we kept the tiger’s hide,” the interrogators quoted the detained persons as saying.

Sceptical police

Initially, the Forest and the Ramagundam police officials thought it was a diversionary tactic by the poachers. Why would the NGO representatives take away money of the poachers when they approached the poachers claiming to be potential buyers of the tiger’s skin? This doubt made them believe that the representatives of the NGO were genuine.

As the NGO representatives disappeared without any trace and switched off their mobile phones, the Ramagundam police — to whom the tiger poaching case was transferred on Saturday — believe the former were tricksters. “Important question is if they cheated any others in a similar fashion. Why did they use the cover of an NGO is also to be answered,” a police officer associated with the investigation of the case said.

The NGO representatives, after assuring to secure ‘good price of around ₹ 25 lakh’ for the tiger’s hide, made the poachers believe that currency notes wrapped in the tiger’s skin will multiply. “They brought a Hindi-speaking priest who asked us to find a lonely house to perform the ritual with the tiger’s skin to multiply the money,” Anjaiah, one of the suspects, told the police.

Anjaiah took them to a house, belonging to his relatives, in Mandamarri. Currency bundles, brought by Anjaiah and others, totalling ₹ 6.5 lakh were placed on the tiger’s skin. The priest asked Anjaiah and others to stand outside during the ritual. “Minutes after we came out of the house, the Forest officials raided the house. The priest and his associates disappeared with the cash leaving the tiger skin behind,” he told the interrogators.

A hunt is on for the NGO representatives now.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 2:03:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/poaching-informants-were-con-artists/article26163568.ece

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