New Delhi: Delhi Police’s recent seizure of two ‘Bengal tiger skins’ from five smugglers has raised questions about the authenticity of the recovered skins. The investigation has revealed that one of the skins was not of a tiger, and examination of the other is still ongoing.
According to sources at the Central wildlife agency, preliminary examination indicated that the black stripes on the first skin were likely painted, suggesting that it was not a real tiger skin.
Sources suggest it may be a dog skin.
The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun is currently conducting a full examination of both skins, with the final report still pending.
Police had announced last week that they had busted a smuggling ring dealing in Bengal tiger skins and arrested five individuals. The accused were reportedly unaware that one of the skins may not have been authentic
The accused were identified as Amir Khan, Deepak Kumar, Mohit, Shivam Sisodia, and Rahul Rawat, all residents of NCR.
According to the police, information was received that a racket indulging in smuggling of tiger skins was active in Delhi and its surrounding areas.
“Specific input was received that the members of the racket would come to the Chhatarpur Metro station to strike a deal with some prospective buyers. The gang was active in Delhi-NCR, and was illegally selling tiger skins for Rs 20 lakh each,” Ravindra Singh Yadav, Special Commissioner of Police (Crime) had said.
Accordingly, a trap was laid in the Vasant Kunj area from where Amir Khan was apprehended and one tiger’s skin was recovered from his possession.
On interrogation, Amir disclosed that his two other associates — Rahul and Mohit — were also with him but they managed to flee.
“All the three accused had come to meet Deepak who was to provide some prospective buyer. A case under the relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act and Indian Penal Code was registered at the Crime Branch police station and investigation was taken up,” the officer said.
Amir also disclosed that the seized tiger skin was provided to him by Rahul and Deepak.
“Deepak was apprehended from Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, while Mohit was arrested from Delhi,” said the officer.
Mohit told the investigators that the recovered tiger’s skin was provided to him by Shivam and some more skins could also be recovered from the latter.
“The police conducted a raid and apprehended Shivam. At the instance of accused Mohit and Shivam, one more tiger’s skin was recovered from a jungle area near Qutub Vihar, Delhi. and Rahul was also arrested,” Yadav said.
“Shivam was the main source for tiger’s skins. He had four in his possession. He had approached Mohit and asked him to look for some buyers, and gave him one skin as a sample. Mohit then contacted Rahul, who got in touch with Amir and asked him to look for some buyer. Amir further contacted Deepak, who was tasked with arranging customers for the illegal deal,” the officer said.