Friday, May 29, 2009

New names surface in lion poaching case.

28 May 2009, 0326 hrs IST, Parth Shastri, TNN

AHMEDABAD: The state Crime Investigation Department (CID) officials have got crucial information about the nation-wide tiger and lion poaching
racket during the questioning of Minter Singh, who was nabbed from Katni, Madhya Pradesh on May 9 in a joint operation by CID and Madhya Pradesh forest officials.

On the basis of his confession, a team of CID (Crime) officials will get custody of another prime accused - Shabbir Hussain Qureshi from Lucknow jail early next month. Qureshi is a resident of Uttar Pradesh.

According to CID officials, they completed all the arrests in the lion poaching cases in Gujarat after Singh was arrested. A total of 18 men and 13 women have been arrested in eight lion poaching cases from three sites in the state, including Babaria forest range of Gir, where carcasses of three lions were found.

"We got court's permission on Wednesday to conduct a narco analysis test on Singh. The preliminary investigation has revealed that he used to deal with the UP-based master poacher Qureshi, who had established international links for exporting animal body parts. We have already initiated a process to get Qureshi to Gujarat to question him on his role in poaching and trade," said VV Rabari, additional director general, CID (Crime).

Keshav Kumar, IG (Prisons) and investigating officer in the poaching cases, told TOI that it is the only second case in the country where narco analysis permission for the poaching cases has been sought. "Earlier, in the same poaching cases, we had performed the test on the accused to get more details on the modus operandi of the group. Earlier, Sansar Chand was identified as the middleman for lion body parts. But, the new development has exposed a bigger inter-state nexus," said Kumar.

Talking about Qureshi's track record, officials said that when he was arrested in December 2007 from Allahabad, he had three tiger skeletons. He confessed to have sold 600 tiger skins abroad and had contacts with Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian buyers and sellers. Since tigers are not available easily, he is suspected to have eyed lions, which have a similar bone structure. Tiger bones have a huge international market, said officials.


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