Two national level shooters, and a Slovenian national, are at the centre of a suspected poaching and illegal arms racket, busted at the residence of a retired colonel in Meerut.
A nearly 17-hour-long raid by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) led to the seizure of 117 kg of nilgai meat stored in a refrigerator, animal skins, ivory, five deer skulls, horns of the sambar deer and antlers of antelope and blackbuck. Additionally, 40 guns were also seized from a makeshift warehouse in the house that belongs to national-skeet shooter Prashant Bhishnoi’s father, who’s a 1971 war hero.
Who is Prashant Bhishnoi?
Prashant Bhishnoi is a national-level skeet shooter who stood 65th in the 60th national championship. He was also part of the Bihar government’s controversial “hunting team” which killed 200 nilgai in six days “because they were destroying crops.” Designated a “renowned” shooter by the National Rifle Association of India, Prashant has the license to carry two weapons of 12 bore each.
At least one other national-level shooter Amit Goel has also been arrested along with Boris, a Slovenian national, thought to be the supplier of the illegal weapons that were smuggled in parts in a knocked down position, according to India Today.
Authorities suspect more professional shooters could be involved in the racket as they are allowed to carry weapons with them on international flights.
Ironically, Prashant belongs to the Bhishnoi community that is known for its commitment towards nature and wildlife. As the Times of India also notes, it was the Bhishnoi community of Rajasthan who had filed a case against actor Salman Khan for poaching in 1998.
A manhunt is currently on for Prashant Bhishnoi who's absconding since the DRI's raid on Monday.
(With inputs from media agencies.)