New Delhi: Goa and Mumbai teams of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have arrested eight persons, including a serving constable of J&K Police, and recovered leopard skins from their possession.
The DRI said that an operation was launched by the teams after it developed specific intelligence over a period of time that a few gangs in Srinagar (J&K) were involved in the illegal wildlife trade and were searching for prospective buyers for the sale of leopard skins.
Accordingly, a detailed plan was made to apprehend the members of the gangs.
"Posing as buyers, officers of Mumbai Zonal Unit (Goa Regional Unit) reached Srinagar in J&K. After several rounds of negotiations, the sellers brought the first skin of a leopard to a pre-designated place in Srinagar near Dalgate. Officers on surveillance intercepted a person who was carrying the leopard skin near the designated place. On the basis of his information, another accomplice was also intercepted at a public place in Srinagar," the official said.
He said that after securing the first catch, the rounds of intense negotiations continued with another gang of sellers. After overnight negotiations, the sellers finally agreed to bring three leopard skins to a pre-designated location.
"Three people carrying the contraband (three leopard skins) were intercepted. The leads generated by information gathered from them indicated that three more persons connected to the transaction were waiting nearby at a public place.
"Two teams of officers were immediately dispatched and they intercepted three persons at the public place. Thus, a total eight persons involved in this illegal trading of wildlife, including one serving police constable, were intercepted and a total four skins of Leopard (Panthera pardus) were recovered," the DRI said.
The official said that initial investigation suggested that the leopards were poached from Ladakh, Doda and Uri.
The subject four leopard skins were seized under the provision of section 50(1)(c) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
The seized contraband and the eight persons, who committed the offence under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, were handed over to the officials of Department of Wildlife Protection, Jammu and Kashmir after initial seizure proceedings under the Wild Life (Protection) Act.