On Friday night, police acting on a tip-off arrested two people from a shop in Vishrambaug area in Sangli and seized the snake venom, which is valued at approximately Rs 1.10 cr in the international market.
The arrested persons were identified as Abbas Hasan Mulla and Chandrakant Tikar, both residents of Sangli. Police further revealed that during interrogations, another individual’s name has cropped up.
A police officer, on condition of anonymity, said a person named Maruti Ghadage had instructed Mulla to hand over the bottle to Tikar, and it seems that Ghadage is the main player in the racket. After the arrests, Ghadage has fled, following which a police team has been formed to trace and nab him.
Investigations further reveal that Mulla, who had come to Tikar’s shop to hand over the bottle containing the venom was paid Rs 1 lakh to execute the job. Tikar runs a photocopy shop, and police raided the shop when the transaction was in progress.
The accused were caught red-handed in the act. Dilip Sawant, superintendent of Sangli police, said, “We have sent the venom to the forensic laboratory for quality tests, and based on the results the exact price of the venom would be ascertained.”
He further said that assistance of local snake-catchers couldn’t be ruled out keeping in mind the quantity of venom recovered. “It seems that the collection process started long back,” said Sawant.
“We are investigating the case and trying to trace the main suspect. There is a possibility that the venom was being smuggled for use at year-end parties, as there is a great demand for the venom among junkies, “said Sawant.
Arvind Soman, member of Nature Conservation Society in Sangli, said, “Without the help of a local hand and local snake-catchers, such a huge quantity of venom cannot be collected.
The people who have been arrested were merely acting as courier boys to smuggle the venom to the desired parties.” Authorities from the Forest department and the Food and Drug Administration have also started investigating the case.
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