Junagadh court holds 21 guilty in lion poaching case
Indian Express By Sibte Husain Bukhari
Junagarh, October 23 : A Junagadh court on Thursday convicted all the 21 accused in a case of poaching of six Gir lions and sentenced them to three years imprisonment. It also imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 each, failing which they will serve additional three months in prison. One convict, Berbai (70), had died during the trial that ran for 18 months.
All the convicts belong to Madhya Pradesh and are associated with the Parghi gang, notorious for poaching.
The incident had occurred in the Babaria range falling under the Gir West forest division in Junagadh. Three lions were killed on March 3, 2007 and the rest were slaughtered on March 29.
Among those convicted, 10 are men and the rest are women. They were arrested on April 18, 2007 and sent to the Junagadh jail on April 25. After an 18-month trial, the court of the additional judicial magistrate found the accused guilty. Judge R K Makwana passed the verdict.
The Junagadh police had registered the case under sections 429 and 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code and under various provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. Those convicted include kingpin Sarkas Lal, Kuntarsinh, Mojersinh and 17 others. All are residents of different villages falling under Khandwa, Panna and Hoshangabad districts of Madhya Pradesh.
Earlier, the incident had created quite a stir in Gujarat, so much so that even Chief Minister Narendra Modi had rushed to Sasan (Gir) to take stock of the situation.
After initial investigation, the case was handed over to CID (Crime).
According to D J Wanakar, Superintendent, Junagadh District Jail, there are 18 minors aged below six who are in jail along with their parents.
Now, the convicts will be packed off to various jails in the state. "The 18 months time period, which the convicts had spent in the Junagadh jail, will be deducted accordingly from three years imprisonment," he said.