Gujarat ATS arrests lion poacher in Uttar Pradesh
THE TIMES OF INDIA
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Monday arrested an Uttar Pradesh man wanted in lion poaching cases dating to 2007. Sarfaraz Qureshi was arrested from his home town, Khaga, near Agra. Qureshi, who had been on the run for 10 years, used push lion bones and teeth — peddling them as tiger remains — to countries such as China and Taiwan through the Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh.
In March and April of 2007, ten lions were poached from Babariya range in Amreli and Junagadh. Three cases were registered. They were probed and cracked under the supervision of the DIG CID crime at the time, Keshav Kumar, who is currently the in-charge director of ACB Gujarat.
"We had arrested 32 accused, including the members the Baheliya gang," Keshav Kumar said. "We had also arrested Circuslal, a notorious poacher from Madhya Pradesh; Keshav Kosh of Karnataka who used to handle the illegal sale of tiger bones and skins in South India; and Sarfaraz's father, Shabbir Hussain." Shabbir died in 2012, while Sarfaraz and another accused, Mohammed Ayyub Qureshi, went absconding
Keshav Kumar said that because of forensic evidence, all the accused were sentenced to three years of imprisonment and were ordered to pay a fine of Rs 10,000 each, in October 2008.
Deputy superintendent of police (DSP), ATS, Ramesh Faldu said that based on a tip-off, teams had been sent to Allahabad and Agra. "Qureshi has been handed over to CID crime for further questioning," Faldu said.
Kingpins got Rs 50 lakh per dead animal
CID crime learnt during investigation that each dead lion fetched Rs 50 lakh in the international market. "Circuslal of Madhya Pradesh, who used to finance the poachers, made Rs 2.5 lakh on every poached lion," Keshav Kumar said.
Tiger scarcity led gang to Junagadh
CID crime said that rampant poaching has reduced tiger numbers in North India. This scarcity led the gang to Junagadh. "Once skinned, it is hard to differentiate between a lion and tiger carcass without DNA testing," Keshav Kumar said. "The accused took advantage of that."