The forest department on Thursday filed chargesheets against two security guards employed by former minister of state Dharmarao Atram, charging them with conspiracy to kill endangered animals.
The chargesheet was filed in connection with the alleged hunting of at least two chinkaras (Indian gazelle) in Pune district last month.
Suresh Birmane and Ravidra Wadkar, two security guards employed by Atram at his Panchgani farmhouse, have been arrested in connection with the hunting. The chargesheet was filed under the Wildlife Protection Act.
Sources in the department said investigators were preparing for the arrest of some more suspects in the case and did not rule out the possibility of arresting Atram, former minister of state for transport and tribal development. Atram's vehicle, which was seen driving into the forests, and a firearm have already been confiscated by investigators.
They said the arrest could happen immediately if laboratory reports on the dead chinkara's skin and bloodstains as well as ballstic reports of Atram's gun established that he was involved in the hunting. "If the reports are getting delayed, we can also arrest him on the basis of circumstantial evidence," the sources added.
Atram, a Nationalist Congress Party legislator from Gadchiroli, resigned as minister earlier this week, after Forest Department investigators found the skin of a slain chinkara at his bungalow.