THE Madhya Pradesh High Court on Thursday granted bail to Maharashtra Forest department’s plantation watcher Dhamsingh Khandate, who has been accused of being involved in transporting a tigress carcass from Maharashtra side of the border to Madhya Pradesh on December 11 last year.
Khandate, who was arrested by MP Forest department officials on January 31, 51 days after the alleged incident, has been in jail since then.
On Thursday, when Khandate’s bail plea came up before the HC, the investigators sought extension of his incarceration to be able to collect “phone call details record” of all accused in the case.
Apart from Khandate, the chargesheet has also named Round Officer Irshad Khan, Forest Guard C R Kokode, two daily wagers, Raju Sangade and Bhola Bisne, and one Laxman Tekam, in whose bullock cart the accused had allegedly transported the carcass from Nagpur district’s side of the forest to that of Seoni side in MP.
High Court Justice Sujoy Paul, while dismissing the MP Forest department’s contention to deny bail to Khandate, however, said the bench was “not going into the merit of the case”.
The plantation watcher, however, was asked to pay Rs 50,000 towards personal bond and a solvent surety of equal amount to secure his freedom on bail.
As reported earlier, the death of the tigress called Sharmilee has led to a squabble between forest departments of the two states, with both flinging accusations at the other. Officials of Maharashtra Forest department have termed the case a “concocted” one, with “not an iota of proof against their officials”. They have pointed out that the spot panchnama mentions that tigress pugmarks were found on the spot, contradicting the bullock cart theory.
The post-mortem report also pointed to natural death, said state officials. They have also pointed out that MP officials have not shared the case papers, which would enable them to conduct their own probe. They have also said that the men named in the chargesheet are not “absconding”, as claimed by MP officials, and are active in the field.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines