CCIB police solve mystery of haunted house in Belagavi
Finally, city crime investigation bureau (CCIB) police, headed by inspector AS Gudigoppa and ACP Shankar Marihal, busted the mystery behind a haunted house on Tuesday by conducting a raid and recovered huge amount of deer horns, pangolin scales, elephant ivory etc. People feared passing by the house for the past several years.
The old house opposite Jain basadi in Shetty Galli, near central bus terminus, was recognized as a haunted house. Neighbours were asking kids not to go near the house scaring them with ghost story. Even when police went to conduct raid on the house, people cautioned them about ghost, as nobody ever saw the doors of the house opening during daytime.
The house was owned by Saleemkhan Sherkhan Soudagar (42), a resident of Khanjar Galli, who is in the profession of animal skin export. The house having four locked rooms was covered with dust and spider nets when police entered the house.
In two of the rooms, police found some materials as earlier accused Saleemkhan used to run touring talkies. "We broke three locks of different rooms but found nothing except scrapped materials due to which we got disappointed. We also thought of returning at one point of time. But it was the last room where wildlife parts were stored. When we broke the lock of last room, we found heaps of deer horns," said ACP Shankar Marihal, speaking to the TOI.
According to police sources, they got the clue that big size of parcels used to be sent to Hyderabad almost every day. Sudden increase in the wealth of accused who has four houses in city triggered suspicion about his activities. "The case is under investigation whether the accused engaged in trading of poached wildlife parts or not," inspector Gudigoppa said.
Huge stock of deer horns:
It was a shocker for police personnel at the last room. They found around 1,906 deer horns weighing 960kgs, 2kg scales of pangolin, hairs of mongoose, 12 skins of waterdogs and two elephant ivory. However, the forest department sources said the originality of ivory was yet to be checked as they are small in size.
Forest sources said the deer horns are much demand in China, which is used in making medicines and used as ornamental material, while scales of pangolin are used in making bullet proof jackets. Mongoose hairs are also costlier in international market, used by international painters in their brushes.
"As wildlife trading is banned in the country, we can't measure the cost of wildlife parts in illegal market," said ACF Shivanand Naikwadi. He added that deer horns will be sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB-Hyderabad) and Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun in Uttarakhad to check how old they are. Meanwhile, he clarified most of the horns are not collected by poaching but after natural shedding.
Twist in tale:
CCIB police have arrested three people - Saleemkhan Soudagar, Mazarkhan Soudagar and Ahmadkhan Soudagar under sections 2(2), (11), (14), (16), (35) and 9, 39, 44, 48, 49 (B), 51, 51 (a) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 for illegally possessing the poached wildlife materials.
However, the main accused has produced document about declaring all the wildlife materials seized in raid to the Belagavi range forest officer in 1998 and certificate by the officer for possessing those materials. Moreover, all the deer horns have been numbered by the forest department.
Responding to certificate produced by the accused, ACF Shivanand Naikwadi said the certificate had been issued before amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act banning trading and possessing of wildlife parts. The government had asked all such wildlife material possessors to dispose them of before 2004 in presence of forest officials. Therefore, the possessing of materials after 2004 amounted to illegal an act. Besides, whether range forest officer has the right to issue such certificates is a matter of investigation, as only chief wildlife warden has the authority to issue such certificate, Naikwadi said.