Probe in wildlife case stalled as IFS officers yet to respond to queries
It’s been two months since the a fact-finding team sought response from the IFS officers about certain points regarding the confiscation of tiger skins and bones in 2016. The Wildlife Institute of India had confirmed that four skins were of tigers from Corbett. Incidentally, the Corbett administration had reported the presence of 208 tigers this year, up from 163 in 2015.dehradun Updated: Oct 25, 2017 20:37 IST
DEHRADUN: The probe into the confiscation of five tiger skins from Shyampur in Haridwar forest division is not moving ahead as six Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers are yet to respond to queries of a fact-finding team.
It’s been two months since the three-member team sought response from the IFS officers about certain points regarding the confiscation of tiger skins and 130 kg bones in 2016. The Wildlife Institute of India had confirmed
that four skins were of tigers from Corbett. Incidentally, the Corbett administration had reported the presence of 208 tigers this year, up from 163 in 2015.
“I have written to the officers concerned and an NGO to furnish details within a week’s time. I know the investigation cannot move ahead unless the (response to) queries are duly submitted,” RK Mahajan, the head of forest force and the principal chief conservator of forest, told Hindustan Times.
Rajeev Mehta of the NGO ‘Operation Eye of The Tiger-India’ had requested forest minister Harak Singh Rawat to order a probe. Subsequently, a list of questionnaire was forwarded to a former Corbett director, his deputy, the chief wildlife warden, the additional principal chief conservator of forest and the divisional forest officers of Haridwar and Lansdowne. Mehta was also directed to submit his response to the queries.
In its August 4 edition, Hindustan Times published that the fact-finding team had submitted a list of queries to Mahajan. The questionnaire raised points on the confiscation of 130 kg of tiger bones, indicating poachers may have killed more striped cats. It sought evidence, reports, FIR copies and other details.
Mehta had accused chief wildlife warden Digvijay Singh Khati and other forest officers of ‘erasing’ evidence of poaching. Earlier, additional principal chief conservator of forest Dhananjai Mohan had investigated the case but his report was not ‘substantial’, according to sources in the forest department.
Khati, the chief wildlife warden, told Hindustan Times that he had submitted his response to all the queries about 10 days ago. “There’s no delay at my end,” he asserted.
Other officers, including the Haridwar and Lansdowne DFOs, are yet to furnish details, Mahajan said, adding that Mehta is also yet to submit reply.
Mehta, however, told Hindustan Times that he had filed his response. “I have submitted my reply to the head of forest force along with a 24-minute video giving him the proof how the evidence I had submitted were erased.”
Haridwar divisional forest officer HK Singh said he has not received any questionnaire, while the other officers could not be contacted.