Minister's car seized in chinkara hunting case
Fri, Jul 4 02:18 AM
The Maharashtra Forest Department has finally seized the Ford Endeavour vehicle belonging to state Transport Minister Dharamrao Baba Atram in the chinkara (Indian gazelle) hunting case near Gulunche village in Purandar tehsil of Pune district on the intervening night of June 14 and 15. The vehicle was seized from the minister's official residence in Mumbai on Monday.
Chief Conservator of Forest (Pune circle) Shirish Asthana confirmed the seizure while talking to The Indian Express. About the minister's gun, Asthana said it hasn't yet been seized, but sources said the gun would be seized from Atram's residence in Aheri, a tehsil in Gadchiroli district where Atram belongs to the royal Gond family. The Department has already seized vehicles belonging to his accomplices, one from Mumbai and another from Pachgani, a hill station near Pune, sources said.
The seizure has fortified the suspicion about Atram's alleged involvement in the case which has become a talking point in the media over the past few days. The FIR registered in the case, however, has shown the accused persons as "absconding." The Forest department has filed papers in the JMFC court at Saswad giving details of the incident based on the eyewitness account narrated by the villagers and also that of the vehicles and guns seized from the people traced on the basis of the vehicle numbers provided by the villagers.
Blood and hair samples of the hunted animal have also been collected from the spot. The alleged hunting was reported by a few villagers who had seen some vehicles in the area and had reported their numbers to the Forest officials. The numbers were MH-02 AL007 (Ford Endeavour belonging to Atram), MH-09 AL3751 (Qualis) and MH-15 BX6101 (Bolero).
Curiously, Atram has admitted to the media and Forest officials investigating the matter that he was in the area on the night but had stopped to have dinner at a dhaba and had no involvement in the hunting. There, however, is no dhaba in the area for many kilometres, investigators have found. All these facts have also been mentioned in the court papers, a senior officer said.
Forest Minister Babanrao Pachpute told The Indian Express , "I have decided not to give any statement to the media about it. You will get it from the investigating officer who has been given full freedom. In any case, law will take its own course."
Incidentally, like Pachpute, Atram too belongs to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the incident occurred on the home turf of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.
The Indian Express link:-http://www.indianexpress.com/story/331110.html