Saturday, May 05, 2007

King of Asiatic lion poachers arrested


Time of India By-Sourav Mukherjee


AHMEDABAD: The May Day deadline given to the state police by Chief Minister Narendra Modi — who wanted the kingpins in the lion poaching case to be arrested before Gujarat’s foundation day function at Junagadh on May 1 — has worked.


Sarkashlal Singh, the kingpin who had allegedly brought the gangs of poachers that killed eight lions within and outside the Gir sanctuary in recent weeks, has been arrested from Una town in Junagadh.


Sarkashlal, who hails from Katni in Madhya Pradesh, had been instrumental in hunting down tigers in the Panna National Park with the help of the same poachers who were rounded up in separate operations in Junagadh and Bhavnagar districts.


Police produced Sarkashlal in a court in Una on Thursday and obtained a five-day remand. They hope to unravel the whole poaching operation which began with Sarkashlal sending in nearly one hundred persons from Katni in areas in and around Gir in the month of March.


The gang members, who operated under the garb of selling herbs, are now on the run and nearly 50 of them, mostly women, have been arrested.


Police had been in hot pursuit of Sarkashlal who was the operations head in this case, along with an Ahmedabad-based animal hide dealer who provided logistical and financial support to the gang.


It is still not known if any incriminating evidence has been recovered f r o m Sarkashlal because, apart from some nets and traps used by the gang, the police has been unable to lay its hands on lion bones and claws.


Police sources said that while other arrested members of the gang were not aware of the whole network, the interrogation of Sarkashlal could provide vital clues about the location of the bones and claws, apart from explaining how the gang managed to smuggle out even lion flesh through the porous borders of the sanctuary.

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