Nainital: Uttarakhand high court on Wednesday asked the state government, state forest department, Union ministry of environment and forest and state forest department officials to submit individual replies within six weeks in matters related to recovery of five tiger skins in March 2016.A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the HC by Rajiv Mehta, former warden of Rajaji Tiger Reserve alleging negligence on part of the state government in investigations in the recovery of five tiger skins in 2016.
The petition requested the court to take “appropriate action towards conservation of the national animal and initiate steps to ensure checks on anti-conservation activities in the state.”Anil Joshi, counsel for the petitioner, said, “The honorable court has asked all the respondents to file replies within six weeks.
We will wait for the replies and then proceed further.”In April 2017, Uttarakhand forest minister Harak Singh Rawat had directed the head of forest force (HOFF) to initiate an enquiry into the seizure of five tiger skins and 130 kg of tiger bones from Corbett Tiger Reserve in March 2016 and sought a report within one month.Rawat also said that the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) will be roped in to monitor tigers in Corbett and verify facts on missing or dead big cats as among the five tiger skins retrieved, stripes of four big cats matched with Corbett tigers.Mehta had alleged that the chief wildlife warden (CWLW) DVS Khati, the then Corbett director Samir Sinha and the head of anti-poaching cell Dhananjai Mohan (who conducted a probe after the arrest of the gang at the behest of Khati), connived to cover up the issue.
Mehta also demanded transfers of these officials.Mehta said, “When there was no other way, I had to go to the court.
I hope the truth comes out.”Mehta added that the main accused and member of Bawaria gang, Ramchander, had admitted to killing tigers in Corbett by entering the reserve through Sona Nadi Wildlife Sanctuary.