Srinagar: A pilot and two army soldiers have been arrested by police in Leh for poaching endangered animals in the area. A sniper rifle has been recovered from the shooter and an official vehicle provided by a senior army officer has been confiscated.
Sources said the police have arrested three persons, Havaldar Kata Prahsan, Lance Naik Inder Soni Singh of 245 Armoured Regiment and a guest of the Commanding Officer of the Regiment, Arjun Balraj Mehta of New Delhi, in Leh for poaching Urail ( a listed endangered deer species) locally known as Shapu.
Sources said the wildlife officials spotted the shooter near Nanak Hill, around 32 kilometres from Leh, who shot three times on the endangered animal. The sources also said that the army jawans had a fight with the wildlife officials who tried to stop them from poaching, and later wildlife officials called the local police.
Police have seized Army Gypsy bearing registration No -14B 113935N and recovered a telescopic gun and ammunition from it.
Police have registered a case (FIR 05/2016 dated 13/04/2016 under Section 8/51 Wild Life Act and 7/25 Indian Arms Act) against the detained.
Arjun Balraj Mehta is said to be a pilot with Jet Airways and his father is Balraj Mehta, a serving brigadier with the Indian army.
Sources said that army tried to hush up the case and sent a truckload of soldiers and officers to “save” the pilot. An official of the wildlife said that skin and hair of an animal were seen in the army Gypsy, which would be sent for forensic testing.
The police is verifying as to how the pilot managed to take the rifle to Leh. Sources said that Col Bhanu Pratap, who commands the Regiment stationed near Gurdwara Pathar sahib, is under scanner for hosting the shooter and providing him the logistics.