Shruti Ulfat was shooting for the TV serial ‘Nagarjuna’ at the time
Shruti Ulfat was shooting for the TV serial ‘Nagarjuna’ at the time

Four months after she posed for a picture with a live cobra coiled around her, the mistake has come back to bite actress Shruti Ulfat, who was arrested by the Thane Forest department yesterday.

Confirming the arrest, Range Forest officer Santosh Kank said, “We have arrested actress Shruti Ulfat along with 3 others for posing with a cobra and posting the images and videos online in October 2016. They were produced before the Borivli court and have been kept in custody of the Thane range. A CD with the images and videos was sent to the forensic lab and it has been proved that a live snake was used for shooting purposes.”

Shooting with a snake
As it happens, Shruti was shooting for the TV series, ‘Nagarjuna - Ek Yoddha’, which is based on the mythical Naag Lok which is a part of Hindu puranas and epics like the Mahabharata. The three others who were arrested are Nitin Solanki, Utkarsh Bali and Pearl Puri, who are part of the production team for the TV show. Shruti Ulfat has also worked in movies such as Raaz, Aetbaar and Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan.

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On October 17, 2016, Shruti had posted pictures on Instagram, in which she is seen posing with an Indian Spectacled Cobra wrapped around her hands and neck. The reptile is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, under which it is an offence to use a live cobra for shooting or post pictures with it.

Activist complained
Activist Sunish Subramanian Kanju from PAWS Mumbai had complained to the Mumbai Range of the Thane Forest department (territorial) after he saw the actress’ pictures. Kanju had also complained to the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Maharashtra.

Speaking to mid-day, Kanju said, “I was shocked to see pictures of a live cobra snake being handled by the actress. I personally feel that celebrities should avoid doing such things, as it sends out the wrong message to the public.” Kanju further alleged that there are people who illegally supply snakes for shooting, and demanded that the forest department take strict action against them.

Pooja Bannerjee, lead actress on the show told mid-day that ‘Nagarjuna’ stopped airing after January 13. “There was an issue a long time ago, but no one had taken action at the time. Since the show ended, I have not been in touch with anyone and have no idea about the case.”

Inputs by Letty Abraham