Poacher Sansar Chand Revealed Tibet, Nepal links: CBI
[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2006/02/05; February 5, 2006.]
NEW DELHI/JAIPUR: On Friday, Rajasthan police arrested Tibetan Neema Kampa from Delhi's Azad Market. Police say every animal pelt that goes out of India passes through the hands of his gang.
Poacher Sansar Chand, too, had told the Rajasthan Police and the CBI that the hundreds of leopard and tiger skins he sold to international dealers, mostly from Nepal, passed through Tibet.
Chand was arrested by Delhi Police on June 30, 2005. His interrogation revealed the widespread network and the route of the international wildlife trade.
CBI officials say Chand has listed sales of hundreds, even thousands of big cat skins to at least four Nepalese buyers. "My Nepalese clients would order the skins on telephone and there was never any problem in supply when they came to Delhi," Chand has confessed.
Chand allegedly said he stored the skins in cloth or leather godowns in the Walled City. They'd be smuggled through the Indo-Nepal border inside false cavities of buses or hidden inside consignments of readymade garments.
After Chand named his prominent Nepalese clients, one of them, Tashi Tshering alias Chhewang, was arrested in Kathmandu in December. Chhewang was an accomplice of Chand in three cases (in the seizures made in Khaga, Kanpur and Delhi's Timarpur).
CBI officials say they are in the process of obtaining permission to either question Chhewang in Kathmandu or obtain his interrogation report. They are also in the process of transcribing the 31 tapes which contain Chand's interrogation.
Chand had been questioned over 10 days by CBI sleuths.
The four Nepalese buyers who figure in Chand's admissions includes:
CBI officials estimate that Chand, through his network, controlled almost 50 per cent of the trade. From an estimated Rs 5,000 in the '90s, Sansar was getting Rs 60,000 for a ti ger skin prior to his arrest.
Chand will often pass on intelligence to police about his rivals and eliminate competition. His interrogation indicates he may have been acting as a middleman for bigger players in Kashmir, Delhi and Nepal.
According to Chand's interrogation records with the Rajasthan police, the traffic in animal skin is run by Kashmiri and Nepalese traders, for whom Chand has been a supplier since early '80s.
Jaipur (North) SP Rajeev Sharma said Chand has named several persons in connection with the trade. "Since we do not have the means to further investigate his links, we have passed on the information to the CBI."
His first major clients were several Kashmiris engaged in the sale of handicrafts. "They would buy from us and then take the raw material to Kashmir, where it was used for manufacturing handicrafts," he allegedly said.
He has named a few, including a prominent handicrafts expor ter based in New Delhi. But the entry of Nepalese buyers edged out the Kashmiris from the market.
"The Nepalese traders started buying from me around 1988. Prior to this, they would purchase the stuff from Kashmiris, who, in turn, would buy from me," he had said during interrogation.
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