One of the three people arrested in connection with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence’s (DRI) investigations into the alleged involvement of the son of a retired colonel in an arms and poaching racket is a Delhi-based owner of a top-end hotel as well as a professional shooter.
The hotelier, Amit Goel, was intercepted on 29 April at Delhi’s IGI airport along with Boris Sobotic Mickolic, a Slovenian national, and Amit Kumar Langan, by the DRI.
On 30 April, a day after the arrest, a close aide of Goel and his personal security officer were shot dead. Bhupinder alias Monu Daryapur was killed along with Delhi Police ASI Vijay Singh. Bhupinder is alleged to have been instrumental in supplying imported weapons and wild animals, according to Delhi Police sources. It is suspected that Bhupinder and his team were killed to eliminate an important link in the “syndicate”.
It is believed that the person behind the murder might be one Sonu Daryapur. Delhi Police is now on the lookout for Daryapur and have conducted search operations at a number of places, including Banawa, Narela and Qutub Garh. The intelligence received following the arrest of Goel, Mikolic and Langan led to a 17-hour-long raid, jointly conducted by the DRI and the Forest Department, at the residence of retired Colonel Devendra Kumar in Meerut.
Based on the items retrieved from the raid, Kumar’s son Prashant Bishnoi, who is a national level skeet shooter, was accused of poaching and selling imported firearms.
Slovenian, Indian Shooters Behind Racket?
According to sources at DRI, the arrested Boris Sobotic Mickolic is suspected to have been running the racket in association with Goel and Bishnoi.
Bishoni alias Pasha is seen in a group picture below with Goel in Hammbugh Germany last February.
“Boris has been a frequent flier to India. The purpose of this visit was to get international brand firearms like Beretta, Blaser, Arsenal, etc to India. Before selling them for a big profit, the weapons were undervalued and declared unfit. The modus operandi helped them to sell firearms to an individual who is not into sport shooting”, reveals a source.
Though no police case has been registered in Meerut, the DRI has instructed all intelligence agencies to be on the lookout for local as well as international connections. The forest department too has put its foot forward in structuring the subsequent course of action. This includes sample of meat found at Prashant’s house during seizure by a team from Wild Life Institute of India on Tuesday.
Raids Unearth Illegal Firearms and Meat
It was more than a big shock for the people of Meerut as the weekend saw a zor ka jhatka dheere se. The city’s VVIP area was raided by a central agency comprising more than 18 members.
The place is surrounded by police lines on one side and Circuit house and DIG office cum residence on the other, along with the Mahila Police Station. It doesn’t end here. The lane which ends up at ‘Sah Sita Niwas’, Civil Lines, has a Police Radio Signal cell at its entrance.
On 29 April, around 11:30 am, a DRI team raided the house of the Retd Col Devendra Kumar – a war veteran of the 1971 Indo-Pak War – of 17 Poona Horses. His mother Sangita Kumar was the District Governor of Rotary International District 3100.
Though the motive of the raid was to search for imported weapons, the raid turned out to be more than a nightmare for all.
In the 17-hour search operation, the team seized more than 100 illegally imported firearms, more than 2 lakh live imported cartridges, 117 kg meat of various endangered animals stored in 45 packets in a large size deep-freezer, huge stock of hides – that of a leopard and two black bucks, skulls with horns of black bucks and sambar deer.
A crore of rupees in hard cash was also seized. The market price of the seized firearms is estimated to be Rs 100 crore.
Neighbours In Shock
The residence of Col Kumar is a three-storied house with all security measures – including a pair of CCTV camera at the entrance. He presently runs a security agency in Bareily with its wings spread out in other cities too.
Right at the entrance, there is a high-tech office with a three layer security. Prashant had kept all his shooting equipment and other materials on the second floor in a wooden room.
A Neighbour We have known this family for many years. Col Devendra runs his security agency in Bareily and he frequent visits other cities too. All we knew about Prashant alias Pasha was that he is a national shooter and fond of hunting and luxurious cars. But what all has happened is just more than a shock for all the colony people. Still we can’t believe that Pasha was involved not only in illegal imported fire arms, but also poaching of animals.
In a recent national shooting event held in Gurugram, Prashant scored 537 points out of 600. According to a search agency, Prashant along with his shooter friend from Hyderabad, was recently granted licence to kill nilgais (blue bull). It is being claimed that Pasha’s team had killed around 500 nilgais. The meat that was found in the raid is that of nilgai, claimed the family during investigations.
Imported Firearms Seized
According to Raj Kumar Digvijay, Additional Director, Delhi Zonal Unit of DRI:
The search operation was tipped off after acting on intelligence. The DRI officers intercepted three passengers, including a Slovenian national and another supplier of arms, at the IGI Airport, New Delhi. These people were travelling by Turkish Airlines from Ljubljana, Slovenia via Istanbul carrying 25 illegally imported lethal weapons. They had mis-declared the quantity and value of the arms and ammunition to customs and tried to clear these items by misusing the scheme and import policy meant for the renowned shooters. (sic)
Digvijay added that “searches were conducted by DRI teams at the residences of the members of the syndicate in Delhi and Meerut. Apart from a huge cache of illegally imported arms, huge stock of hides, skulls and meat of endangered animals were seized. Firearms of various make and models like Glock (Austria), Beretta (Italy), Arsenal (Italy), Benelle (Italy), Blaser (Germany), etc. were seized along with expensive cameras, thermal imaging binoculars and cartridges.”