Jeevan Das and Surta, known as the tiger bandits of Rajasthans Sariska, told CBI officials that they incapacitated numerous tigers and panthers with a simple blow of a stick on the forehead after trapping them in rudimentary iron traps.
After that, they would skin the unconscious big cat alive. Once this is done, they would deliver a final blow to kill the animal for good.
“A gunshot mark reduced the price of the tiger skin by almost half the price. Also, skinning the tiger while it was still alive ensured that the skin did not lose its glow because of decomposition. By doing so, we got nearly Rs 1 lakh per such skin,” Das said.
It took the CBI nearly four years to hunt down the two big- ticket poachers after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deputed the central agency to probe the disappearance of tigers from Sariska in 2005.
They were arrested from a village near Mansa in Punjab on October 10.
The CBI says Das and Surta, who are relatives, supplied the skins to a gang based at Samalakha near Sonepat in Haryana. This gang later sold the prized objects to Sansar Chand of Delhi.
Chand is now in Tihar Jail after being convicted in three cases of illegal trade of animal skins.
” There were three main poachers operating in Sariska who supplied skins to the Sansar Chand network. One was Kalya Bawaria. He was arrested in 2005 and convicted two years later. The other two were Jeevan Das and Surta,” a top CBI official said.
The duo was from Panipat and they moved to Sarsika in 2000 after learning about the lax security mechanism in the tiger reserve. ” They devised an ingenious iron trap called khatka to trap a tiger by its paw. Blows on the cats forehead would render it unconscious and they would start skinning the big cat alive. But the duo disappeared from Sariska in 2005,” the CBI official added.
The CBI says there are recorded instances of 22 tiger and 24 panther poaching in Sariska from 2001 to 2005.
The Jeevan- Surta duo was officially accused of killing six of these tigers and 13 panthers. But the duo is believed to have killed much more.
Das was arrested by the Rajasthan wildlife department in 1995, but he managed to secure bail and abscond. ” Surta was never arrested before. They are the missing link in many wildlife cases lodged by the CBI and the Rajasthan govt,” a CBI official said.
15 October 2009
The Asian Age
15 October 2009
CBI arrests two wanted poachers
Oct. 14: The CBI has arrested two poachers Jeevan and Surta who were involved in more than 20 poaching cases and are allegedly responsible for the extinction of tigers and leopards from Sariska wildlife sanctuary in Rajasthan.
The duo were carrying rewards of Rs 20,000 each on their heads and they have also supplied tiger skins to notorious wildlife poacher Sansar Chand on several occasions.
Sansar Chand is an accused in several cases of poaching and is languishing in Tihar Central Jail.
According to sources in the CBI, the duo were arrested from Namunda in Panipat. The initial interrogation of the duo revealed that they used to apply "Khatka" process to kill tigers and leopards in Sariska, said a source. He added that Khatka is a process of killing animals slowly, while ensuring that the animal sustains least injuries on their bodies. Both were considered experts in this process which ensures that the animal will die only after their skin is removed, he said. They have revealed that skinning the animals in this manner helped them fetch high prices in the illegal market as "fresh" skins were more in demand.
"They belong to the Bawaria gang, which is actively involved in poaching in Rajasthan. They were in regular touch with mediators close to Sansar Chand, who is believed to be India’s biggest wildlife criminal. During interrogation by the CBI in 2006, Sansar Chand had admitted to selling 470 tiger skins and 2,130 leopard skins to his clients from Nepal and Tibet", said the source.
The accused had been evading their arrest since 2005 and were active in poaching and killings of tigers in Rajasthan, the source further added. A large number of cases are pending against them.
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