Tuesday, May 12, 2009

India: Key suspect accused in 2007 Asiatic lion poaching case

Key accused in 2007 Asiatic lions poaching case held in MP

Express News Service
Posted: May 11, 2009 at 0335 hrs IST

Rajkot/Ahmedabad Minter Singh, a key accused in the Asiatic lions poaching case of 2007, was arrested in Kutney, Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, in a joint operation by the Gujarat CID (Crime) and the MP Police. Singh will be brought to Gujarat for prosecution.

A total of 36 people have been convicted for the poaching of eight Asiatic lions at three different sites in and around the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in 2007.

The arrest of Singh, who is suspected to be the kingpin of the poaching racket, is considered significant for the case, as some villagers of Kutney were involved in the poaching that had jolted the state.

Carcasses were found at different places, including Babariya Range in the Gir sanctuary as well as from Bhunduriya village in the coastal belt of Bhavnagar district, 100km from the sanctuary.

A total of 36 people, half of them women, were arrested from Una in Junagadh district and from the Bhavnagar railway station in 2007.

A Junagadh court had sentenced 20 people to three years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 each, while the Bhavnagar metropolitan court sentenced 16 people to four years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000 each. They were convicted under provisions of both the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Singh was wanted in the same case.

The CID (Crime) was handed over the investigation of the case at a time when the state government was under pressure to shift some of the Asiatic lions to MP. While poaching left no tigers in neighbouring Rajasthan, it was for the first time that Asiatic lion's last abode — Gir sanctuary — had become a target of poachers.



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