Minister quits, may be arrested
Under investigation for his alleged involvement in hunting chinkara near Pune, Minister of State for Transport and Tribal Development Dharmarao Baba Atram on Monday resigned.
Atram, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) minister from Gadchiroli, sent his resignation to Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh who accepted it.
Atram is suspected to be involved in hunting chinkara (Indian gazelle) in Pune’s forest area on June 14. The incident came to light after villagers complained to the Forest Department. The Hindustan Times has been following the incident since June 17 when suspicions arose that the minister may be involved.
Atram said he quit to facilitate investigation. “I’m not involved. Some disgruntled people in the administration have hatched a conspiracy against me. I haven’t misused my position.”
Officials seized Atram’s SUV and a revolver. They also recovered chinkara skin and remains from his Panchgani and Aheri houses. One of his guards is said to have confessed that Atram and his friends ate chinkara meat the night it was killed.
Sources said Atram is likely to be arrested soon and could face a maximum of seven years in jail.