The Balaghat Police have busted a wild animal skin smuggling racket, which was operated by a teacher of a government Industrial Training Institute (ITI).
Ganpat (40) was arrested with two aides while he was en route to Balaghat with a leopard skin worth Rs 5 lakh, Balaghat SP Amit Sanghi said on Sunday.
Based on information rendered by Ganpat and his aides, the police arrested two more men from Dhundhunwala village in Lanji area. A search of their house led to remains of a barahsingha (swamp deer), suggesting that they were old hands at animal parts smuggling racket.
All five have been booked under provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act.
“Questioning of the five arrested men has so far revealed that Ganpat, who teaches in ITI Baihar, is the kingpin of the racket, which could be linked to some bigger inter-state wildlife smuggling rackets also,” said Sanghi.
“Till now those arrested with Ganpat seem to be middlemen, but its connectivity with other rackets and prospective customers is under investigation,” said Sanghi.
Primary investigations by police and forest department suggest that the leopard skin is just a few months old, as it also contained traces of flesh. Further, with no gunshot wounds visible anywhere on the seven-foot-long skin of the leopard, it seems the animal could have been poisoned instead of being gunned down, the Balaghat SP said.