BY KUMUD JENAMANI
Jamshedpur, April 23: A Ghatshila court today sentenced two persons to two-and-a-half years of rigorous imprisonment for attempting to smuggle a leopard’s skin after killing the animal 15 years ago, the first conviction among several poaching cases that have come up in the Singhbhum region.
Sub-divisional judicial magistrate of Ghatshila Lokark Dubey also imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 each on Surai Majhi of Marangsanda village and of one of his many accomplices, Syed Mohammed Nasim of Musaboni.
The judge also asked them to pay Rs 25,000 each as compensation to the Dhalbhum forest division from where the leopard was picked up and poisoned in 1995. And if the two failed to pay up — both penalty and compensation — they would have to serve another five months of rigorous imprisonment.
According to the prosecution, in November 1995, officials of the Dhalbhum forest division received a tip-off that Majhi was trying to sell the skin of a leopard he had poisoned and killed in the forests near Marangsanda village in Musaboni in Ghatshila sub-division of East Singhbhum district.
Forest officials, accompanied by the police, then raided Majhi’s house and recovered the leopard skin which later became the prosecution’s key exhibit. The police also picked up a man who was assisting him in the business.
Majhi confessed during interrogation that he had used poison to kill the leopard and was about sell the skin to smugglers. The two were sent to judicial custody and subsequently to the Ghatshila sub-divisional jail.
A year later, the two got bail from the district court. Today, 15 years after their arrest, the court convicted them for poaching and attempted smuggling. There were six others accused of helping Majhi in his deals, but they could not be caught, leading the court to declare them absconders.
The six who got away were Mohan Murmu, Tikaram Majhi, Ramdash Murmu, Mangal Murmu, Anchal Murmu and Kanhu Murmu, all residents of Marangsanda village.
Divisional forest officer of Dhalbhum A.T. Mishra, who has been monitoring the case closely, said this was first time that a poaching case in the Singhbhum region had led to conviction, that too by a Ghatshila court.
“Several cases of poaching wild animals and smuggling animal skin have been lodged in the Singhbhum region in the past, but never before has there been a conviction. That’s because it’s very difficult to prove such cases before a court,” he said, adding the judgement was a definite morale-booster for the forest department.