Mumbai: Five who set up killer traps in Film City caught

Jan 05, 2019, 18:25 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Accused have told Forest Department officials that they had set up the snares for deer meat. Those arrested are from the Film City and Goregaon area. They had apparently switched off their phones and were hiding at home in fear

Mumbai: Five who set up killer traps in Film City caught
Five people arrested in the poaching case at Film City on Friday. Pics/Nimesh Dave

A determined Thane Forest Department, acting swiftly, smoked out five people responsible for setting up metal snares that killed a leopard and a deer, whose carcasses were found last week inside Film City. Those arrested are from the Film City and Goregaon area. They had apparently switched off their phones and were hiding at home in fear.

The accused were produced before the Borivli metropolitan court where they were sent to three-day custody of the forest department. While everyone is surprised at how quickly the forest department found the accused, the breakthrough in the investigation was not easy, they said. Forest Department sources told mid-day that this was possible only because of the keen interest taken by Deputy Conservator of Forest Dr Jitendra Ramgaonkar , ACF Girija Desai and RFO Santosh Kank.

Five people arrested in the poaching case at Film City on Friday

FD sources said, "After the leopard and Sambar carcasses were found, we activated our informer network, who tipped us off about a few people who could be picked up on suspicion. We even got a few numbers of the suspects from our sources. We realised we were on to the real thing when all the numbers were found switched off. We then picked up a relative of one of the suspects and during interrogation he admitted that the suspect was at home."

On Thursday evening, around 5pm, the team of forest department officials headed by ACF Girija Desai and RFO Santosh Kank prepared a strategy. They then took a team of 20 forest officials and landed at the home of one accused, Rahul Habale, and took him away for interrogation. By 6.30pm Habale had spilled the beans on all the others and confessed that they had set up the snares for deer meat.

Poached Leopard In Film City Identified; Her Cub's Survival In Question

Carcasses of a leopard
Carcasses of a leopard

"While all this was happening, Habale's cellphone was checked and everyone was shocked to see pictures of him holding a sambar deer," said a source. The sambar has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2008 as its populations have declined substantially due to severe hunting and exploitation of habitat.

Armed with this vital proof, forest department seniors were informed and it was decided to pick up the other four accused. The search for the four went on till Friday morning when they were finally rounded up. They have been identified as Mohan Bhoye, 20, Ganpat Dalvi, 31, Anil Bhoye, 32, and Dashrath Habale, 32.

A Sambar deer that were caught in snares
A Sambar deer that were caught in snares

Forest department sources said the accused are being questioned separately and have given some important leads in this case. A press release issued by the Thane forest department states: "The five accused have confessed to setting up snares at different locations in Film City to poach wild animals. The court has given us custody for five days." Sources said they are also investigating the deer meat trade angle given the large number of live snares found inside Film City.

The families of the accused seen outside a Borivli court on Friday pleading with Assistant Conservator of Forests Girija Desai to let their arrested kin go
The families of the accused seen outside a Borivli court on Friday pleading with Assistant Conservator of Forests Girija Desai to let their arrested kin go

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