Smuggling of White vultures from Indian ports: Accused gets bail as no animals were found in their possession

It’s said to be a high-profile case with much political pressure. The three smugglers were not questioned under strict norms. They were even able to refuse answering questions outright.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Wednesday, February 16, 2022, 11:40 AM IST
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Indore (Madhya Pradesh): The three vulture smugglers who were arrested from Sikka port located in Jamnagar, Gujarat, by the State Tiger Strike Force (STSF) and a forest department team were released on bail on Tuesday. They were released on bail citing that no animal parts or animals were found in their possession. The accused will be required to cooperate in the investigations and report to court every Sunday.

Significantly, the accused in such cases are never allowed bail as it is a non-bailable offence, but this is a high-profile case with a lot of political pressure, because of which the accused were said to have been granted bail.

Some forest officials, requesting anonymity, shared that the department is battling with political pressure because of the arrest of the three accused smugglers. The pressure is increasing continuously on the team of the State Tiger Strike Force (STSF) and Khandwa forest department. This is the reason why the severity of the case is not taken into account by the department.

Slack questioning

According to sources present during the interrogation, the smugglers were not questioned under strict norms and they were even able to refuse answering questions outright. The answers to many of the questions have not yet been recorded by the team.

January 20 incident

On January 20, seven white vultures were recovered the possession of Farid Sheikh, who was caught from Khandwa in a smuggling case. During interrogation, Hussain, Ateeq and Mohammad of Farid’s gang were linked to the smugglers. The Khandwa forest division and Indore STSF became active after the intervention of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB).

Political pressure

As soon as the three accused, Hussain, Ateeq and Mohammad, came out of the port of Sikka, in Jamnagar, Gujarat, they were caught from the hotel. A silver Innova (MH 47 AG 1005) vehicle was found in the possession of the smugglers, in which a cage was kept. According to sources, political pressure started building up from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh after the arrest.

During interrogation, Hussain and the vehicle’s owner, Ateeq, were asked to leave. Due to this, the investigation team is not showing much interest in interrogating them further. So far, nothing has been found which can be linked to the smugglers in the case. Khandwa ranger Nitin Rajouria said that the investigation is going on right now.

The questions whose answers were sought from the alleged smugglers were:

§ What is the vulture used for in the Gulf countries?

§ Where is the wildlife brought from?

§ Which other ports are used for smuggling the vultures?

§ Where are the gang members spread?

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