Enforcement agencies have recovered a 14-foot long carcass of a tiger from a house in Gurgaon on Monday but failed to nab the prime accused, poacher Bhima Bawaria, and his two accomplices during the raid.
The arrest of Bhima (50) or his accomplices, identified as Hazari and Shankar Mandal, could have led the agencies to the international network of poachers. Bhima, belonging to the bawaria tribe, was previously arrested twice for wildlife crimes in 2002 and 2005.
Apart from the bones of a full grown tiger, believed to have been killed recently somewhere in the jungles of Uttarakhand or Uttar Pradesh, a joint team of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India (WCCBI), Gurgaon police and non-government organisation Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) also recovered an ivory tusk, two deer horns, two teeth of wild boar and a turtle shell. They also recovered iron traps and other contraptions used for trapping and killing wild animals.
Balbir Singh, WCCBI assistant director, said had Bhima or any of his accomplices been arrested in the raid of his house in Surat Nagar in Gurgaon, some vital clues about the international network could have surfaced.
“We received a tip-off on Monday and immediately planned a raid with the help of the Gurgaon police. But Bhima, Hazari and Mandal had already fled. We found the tiger carcass and other materials in his residence,” Singh added.
The agencies as well as the wildlife department in Uttarakhand knew Bhima’s family lived in Gurgaon for more than six years but no action was taken to arrest him. In 2002, when Bhima was arrested in Karan Prayag jungles in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand, he produced his original address as Tikampur, Gurgaon where he presently lives.
In 2005, when he was arrested on the borders of Uttarakhand and UP, Nazibabad, in possession of tiger skins and bones, once again he produced the same address. “We got to know of it through the Wildlife Crime database and shared with the law enforcement agencies. But we have no idea why he was not arrested,” said Tito Joseph, the programmer manager with WPSI.
Joseph said the Gurgaon police had also received warrants against Bhima from various agencies but he was never arrested and continued his operation.
When contacted, DCP (West) Rakesh Arya as well as the SHO of the concerned police station, Mahavir Singh said they were not aware of any such warrants.
“We came to know of Bhima and his activities only after WCCBI officials approached us on Monday and sought escort to raid Bhima’s house in Surat Nagar,” SHO Singh said.