AS THE UT Forest and Wildlife department is yet to trace the rehesus macque (monkey) in possession of a tattoo artist, the complainant NGO People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on Thursday announced a reward of Rs 50,000 to anyone who helps in finding the rhesus macaque. The tattoo artist Kamaljit Singh and his manager Deeepak Vohra, accused of illegally keeping the monkey in captivity, were arrested on August 19.
However, on the next day, the two were released on bail after their defense counsel argued in the court that the required protocols were not followed at the time of the arrest of the two persons.
During interrogation, Kamaljit Singh and Deepak Vohra had accepted that the monkey was in their possession but as they came to know that keeping a monkey is a crime under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, they released the animal into the wild. However, officials of the UT wildlife wing believe that the monkey is still in the possession of the two suspects.
Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), Abdul Qayum said, “We are still putting in efforts to recover the confined wild animal. The two suspects have failed to produce any evidence to make us believe that they had released the monkey into the wild. An NGO, which filed a complaint against the artist, has announced a reward of Rs 50,000 to any person who will provide information about the monkey. The identity of the informer will be kept a secret.”
The hearing of the matter in the court of JMIC Lovjinder Kaur was deferred for October 7. The defense counsel advocate Harlove Singh said, “The wildlife officers have still failed to produce any concrete evidence against Kamaljit Singh and Deepak Vohra. Their legal representative sought more time to submit a challan against the two.”
Artist Kamaljit Singh was not available for comments. His manager Deepak Vohra said, “The announcement of a reward is only to create a hype about the incident.”
PETA representative Hiraj Laljani said, “PETA is offering a reward of Rs 50,000 for information leading to the discovery of a missing rhesus macaque – a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, who was reportedly illegally held captive for over a year by tattoo artist Kamaljit Singh (alias Kamz Inkzone) and his studio manager Deepak Vohra.”
The UT Wildlife department initiated a legal proceeding against the two under the Section 2 (16) (b), Sections 39 and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, for illegally capturing and keeping a protected wild animal in custody.