PUNE/SATARA: State forest officials have seized the half-burnt skin, bones and other remains of a chinkara from the farmhouse of state minister for transport and tribal development Dharmarao Baba Atram. The raid on Atram’s farmhouse at Khingar in Mahabaleshwar taluka comes nearly three weeks after the poaching of the chinkara, an endangered species of deer, in the forest area of Purandar taluka came to light.
Government officials, in another simultaneous raid at Atram’s house at Aheri in Gadhchiroli district, recovered two rifles and two trophies with mounted heads of deer. The poaching incident had taken place on June 14, which was reported by local residents.
Following the seizure, the demand for Atram’s resignation has become vociferous. Atram is a member of the Nationalist Congress Party.
The police on Friday night arrested two security guards, Ravindra Tukaram Bidkar, and Suresh Anand Biramne, who were posted at the farmhouse in Panchgani taluka. They have been remanded to police custody till Tuesday.
The officials investigating the poaching case suspected that the meat of the deer had been cooked at the farmhouse of Atram’s close associate Grabial Fernandes, who has reportedly been absconding for the past few days. Fernandes’ farm house is adjacent to the farmhouse of Atram.
Meanwhile, state forest minister Babanrao Pachpute, who had visited the site last week where the poaching took place, had said that no one, however powerful they may be, would be spared. He had praised the forest officials for the thorough enquiry that they had conducted in the case.
Incidentally, Atram was expected to attend a function organised by the Adivasi Vikas Jankalyan Yuvak Samiti, a body of tribal students at government-run hostels, at Sakhar Sankul in Shivajinagar in the city on Sunday. However, he did not turn up for the event.