Blackbuck poaching case: MP’s STF wildlife crime books four forest officials
Madhya Pradesh forest department’s special task force (STF wildlife crime) has booked four forest department employees for letting off four of the seven alleged poachers roam scot free in a black buck poaching case. One forest guard has been arrested so far, while three others-range officer and two forest guards- are absconding, said STF officials.
Senior STF officials said these four officials have been accused of taking money from the suspected poachers, not producing before the court all the accused they had caught and disposing of the body parts without court’s permission and without presence of an authorized person.
The four forest officials- one ranger and three forest guards- have been booked under sections 50, 51, 52 and 53 of Wildlife (Protection Act 1972). If convicted, they could be jailed for three to seven years, said STF officials. Three forest guards have been suspended and action is likely to be taken against the range officer if he doesn’t reply to the explanation sough from him, added STF officials.
A senior STF official said in September last year, the poaching of a Black Buck was reported from Bakani village of Damoh district.
“The local forest officials arrested three people in the case. But following the arrest, there were protests in the area by the locals that the forest officials had caught the wrong people and real culprits were scot roaming free. Complaints regarding this were made to the senior officials in the state forest department following which the case was handed over to the STF for thorough investigation in the first week of October”, he said.
When STF investigated the case, it found alleged involvement of four more people in the poaching of the black buck, as was claimed by the locals
“During our investigation we found serious dereliction of duty, misuse of official position, taking money from the suspected poachers, changing the seized weapon of one of the accused with another weapon, producing only three people in the court instead of seven they had caught initially”, the official said.
Black Buck (Antelope cervicapra) also known as the Indian antelope with its ringed horns, is listed under the schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, according it the highest legal protection.