Sunday, 24 July 2011


A day long combined operation of the Uttarakhand Forest Department and the Wildlife Preservation Society of India on 22nd July 2011 culminated in the arrest of three persons with three leopard skins seized from them. The seizure took place at night 8 O' Clock at a remote locality called Shama in District Bageshwar of Uttarakhand, India. The main accused is
Mr.Ramesh Chand Pandey of Bageshwar, who is already on bail in another wildlife case. The others were from the local villages nearby. The team on getting information of the crime assembled at Almora and planned the strategy to nab the culprits. The officers and staff of Almora, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh Forest Divisions were kept at strategic positions so that the culprits never escape, wherever they chose to make the delivery. At first they called the accused over phone decoyed as a trader. The accused first asked them to reach Chaukori in Pithoragarh, but later changed the location to Bageshwar. On reaching Bageshwar, 3 hrs from Almora they got another phonecall telling them to reach Kapkot 2 hours away and further one hour to reach Shama, where the delivery would take place. The team reached the spot in private vehicles and a taxi, leaving the official vehicles hidden at strategic points. The accused took the team to a small hotel room where the deal was finalised. A few minutes later, a person came to the hotel and showed the well preserved leopard skins. The forest department officials and staff reached the site from all around in disguise and once the delivery took place, the three persons were immediately caught red handed and arrested. Three rounds of gunshots were fired in the air to prevent any possibility of other persons coming to the spot to help the accused persons to escape.
All three were later sent to remand in Almora jail by the judicial magistrate till 5th August, when further hearing would be done.
The main accused, Mr.Ramesh Chand Pandey, however, during interrogation has claimed  that he has several contacts in higher quarters and challenged that he would get himself free within 10 days! He also offered INR 1 lakh to the staff if they could help him escape.

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