A nephew of a Maharashtra minister and his five associates were caught by villagers for hunting and killing a blackbuck near Jambharun jungle in Washim district, some 350 kms from Nagpur in western Vidarbha. Shockingly, the police freed the offenders upon knowing the relation of one of the poachers, prompting calls to book them immediately.
The incident is a copy of Rajasthan’s Bishnoi community who ganged up against actor Salman Khan for hunting down two blackbucks a few years ago.
According to reports reaching here on Wednesday, Anil Madhukar Naik, the nephew of senior NCP leader and Maharashtra minister for food and drugs, Manohar Naik, and his five associates killed a blackbuck on Tuesday. They were caught when they were taking it away in a red-coloured four-wheeler.
Noticing this, some villagers stopped the vehicle and informed the nearby police station, Ansing. It was said that the police sub-inspector Pratapsinh Chavan reached the spot and took the alleged poachers into the custody. The police also seized the dead blackbuck and the vehicle.
However, when the police came to know that one of the poachers is the nephew of a Maharashtra minister, they allowed them to go free. Reports said that there was intense pressure on officials to hush up the matter.
The state wildlife warden and principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife), SWH Naqvi, expressed his anguish over the development and the role of the Washim police for not booking the offenders.
“I have ordered an enquiry into the matter and directed the chief conservator of forests (CCF), Yavatmal circle, DK Tyagi and Dy CF, Akola forest division, AR Moon to enquire the matter and ensure that offenders should be booked immediately,” he said.
According to him, senior forest officials and a team of veterinary officers have rushed to the spot and conducted a post mortem of the carcass of the blackbuck. “We are also talking with the senior police officials to book the offenders immediately and police officials who allowed them to go free be punished,” Naqvi added.
Kishore Rithe, member of the national wildlife board, demanded a stern action against the poachers immediately. He also spoke to principal secretary, Maharashtra forest department, Pravin Pardeshi in this regard and demanded to book the offenders under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. “The blackbuck is schedule- I animal as per the act and there is a provision of up to seven years of imprisonment for such wildlife crime,” he pointed out.