Ex-minister’s bail plea in Chinkara poaching case rejected (Lead)

August 30th, 2008 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 30 (IANS) The bail application of former Maharashtra transport minister Dharmarao Baba Atram, who was arrested for allegedly poaching the protected Chinkara deer, was rejected Saturday afternoon by a court near Pune, a police official said.Atram was presented Saturday before a magistrate in Saswad court, near Pune, and was remanded to 14 days’ police custody.

He then submitted a bail application, which was rejected by the court.

Even as the hearing on the bail application was in progress, Atram suddenly complained of pain in his chest. Officials immediately rushed him to Sassoon Hospital in Pune for treatment.

The NCP leader came under a cloud after the arrest of one Suresh Beramani. The remains of a Chinkara deer and guns were seized when the forest department raided his farmhouse near Panchgani in Satara district, soon after the poaching incident.

In July the forest department raided Atram’s home in Gadchiroli, eastern Maharashtra and discovered remains of a Chinkara deer from there.

Some villagers near the Bhor sub-district, who had reportedly seen Atram and his friend partying after allegedly killing the animals, had tipped off the forest department. They had seen the duo entering the forests in Baramati area - the Lok Sabha constituency of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar - in the minister’s official car and later hunting the endangered animals June 14.

On July 7, Atram submitted his resignation to Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. In his resignation letter, he claimed that he was innocent but was resigning in view of an inquiry against him.

He moved the Bombay High Court, which directed him to remain present before the Bhor forest department office Aug 28 for inquiry into the matter.

Following intensive grilling for three days by officials of the sub-divisional forest department, Atram was placed under arrest Saturday and charged under various sections of the Protection of Wildlife Act.

Earlier, six other people allegedly involved in the incident were detained by the forest department officials.

In the wake of this and other cases of wildlife poaching, the Maharashtra government announced that it would set up 33 forest control rooms in each district except Mumbai and Mumbai suburban districts.

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