The forest officials seized three vehicles on Friday in connection with the chinkara hunting case in Pune district. One of the vehicles belongs to Minister of State for Tribal Development and State Transport Dharamrao Baba Atram.
Two vehicles were seized from Mumbai while one was picked up from Nashik.
Atram had admitted that he was present on the spot on June 14. Forest officials suspect that at least two chinkaras, listed in Schedule I of the Wild Life Protection Act, were killed on the night. If found guilty, the minister would be arrested under a stringent Wildlife Protection Act and sacked from the state cabinet. He represents the Nationalist Congress Party in the alliance government.
A top source in the Forest Department said on condition of anonymity that the three vehicles, three guns and a revolver were submitted in Purandar court on Thursday night. The sources said Atram and his driver were likely to be arrested after completing the legal formalities.
The department has registered a complaint against unknown persons under various sections of Indian Forest Act and Wild Life Protection Act at Purandar court.
Though investigating officers did not answer calls, Forest Minister Babanrao Pachpute did not deny the vehicle seizure.
He told Hindustan Times that he has given a free hand to the investigators. “I will not interfere in the probe. The officers can do whatever they want to get leads,” he said.