Meerut raid: Sleuths probing Vishnoi’s possible links with international arms traffickers
Recovery of a huge haul of arms, two lakh cartridges, wild animal hides, trophies and other materials during the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) raids at the residence of a retired army officer in Meerut on Saturday and other locations in Delhi and Gurgaon, have led sleuths deeper into the network of an international syndicate of arms traffickers and poachers.
The DRI officials have issued a look out notice for the retired army officer Col Devendra Kumar’s son, Prashant Vishnoi, who is a professional skeet shooter and is still at large. The officials seized his passport during the raid to prevent him from escaping to another country.
Meanwhile, Col Kumar had assured the law enforcement agencies of his support. “I was not aware about my son’s activities and if he has done anything wrong, action should be initiated against him,” he said.
The DRI seized more than 100 firearms, including weapons of high quality global brands like Glock (Austria), Beretta (Italy), Arsenal (Italy), Benelle(Italy) and Blaser(Germany), during its raids in Meerut, Delhi and Gurgaon.
Many of the seized firearms are prohibited for public use and it is believed that the shooter and his aides collected these through their foreign connections. Expensive cameras and thermal imaging binoculars were also seized, which indicates that the syndicate members were using these for poaching.
Issuing details of the seized items and the syndicate of arms traffickers, additional director of DRI, Delhi Zone, Raj Kumar Digvijay said, “The syndicate was busted after the DRI officers intercepted three passengers, including a Slovenian national and an arms supplier, at the Indira Gandhi International airport last week. These people were travelling with Turkish airlines, carrying 25 illegally imported lethal weapons. They had mis-declared the quantity and the value of the arms and ammunition to the customs and were trying to get them cleared by misusing the scheme and the import policy meant for renowned shooters.”
On the basis of the revelations of the arrested persons, raids were carried out in Meerut, Gurgaon and Delhi , which led officials to this syndicate of arms traffickers and poachers.
Sources said that the leopard hide confiscated from Col Devendra Kumar’s house belonged to an animal killed recently near the Jim Corbett National Park, and the process of skinning was done at his residence.
The raiding team also recovered 117 kg raw meat from the army officer’s residence. Chief conservator of forest (west zone) Mukesh Kumar has directed his staff to send a sample of the recovered meat to the wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun for testing. “Efforts are on to nab the absconding Vishnoi.”
A case has been registered against Kumar and Vishnoi under different sections of the Wildlife Act.