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Bihar Nilgai Shooter was Arrested in 1991 for Arming AP Maoists

One of the three shooters who killed Nilgais in Bihar supplied weapons to Andhra Maoists, reports Chandan Nandy.

Updated
India
4 min read
‘Nawab’ Shafat Ali Khan who, along with two other professional hunters, were hired  by the Bihar government to kill  Nilgais across the state. (Photo:<a href="http://udumulasudhakarreddy.blogspot.in/2013/08/famed-hyderabad-nawab-shafat-ali-khan.html"> Blogspot.com/SudhakarReddy</a>)

‘Nawab’ Shafat Ali Khan, one of the three shooters who hunted down nearly 200 Nilgais in different districts of Bihar over the last one year or so, has a sordid past. Back in 1991, he was arrested by the Karnataka police for supplying weapons to Maoists who operated along the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border.

Speaking to The Quint over phone, retired Karnataka police Additional Director General KSN Chikkerur confirmed that Khan was arrested in 1991 along with Patel Sudhakar Reddy, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), on charges of clandestinely supplying high grade weapons to the ultra-left organisation.

Reddy hailed from Kurthiravulacheruvu village near Maldakal in Mahbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh.

Chikkerur, who was superintendent of police in 1991, said that Reddy’s interrogation revealed that he lived in hiding in Bangalore just before his arrest. He was killed in an encounter by the Maharashtra police in Nagpur three years ago.

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A Nilgai in the wilds. ‘Nawab’ Shafat Ali Khan and his companion hunters, who  killed Nilgais in Mokama, Buxar, Bhojpur and West Champaran districts of Bihar, were paid Rs 1,500 for each  kill. (Photo: iStokphoto)
A Nilgai in the wilds. ‘Nawab’ Shafat Ali Khan and his companion hunters, who killed Nilgais in Mokama, Buxar, Bhojpur and West Champaran districts of Bihar, were paid Rs 1,500 for each kill. (Photo: iStokphoto)
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‘Nawab’s Bandipur Base

While Khan was subsequently charge-sheeted, he managed to secure his release by moving political levers in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. He then purchased safari land in Tamil Nadu’s Bokkapuram, bordering the Bandipur national park, from where he would “organise wildlife shootings” for rich clients not only in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh but also in other parts of India. “He would use telescope-mounted rifles to kill faraway animals,” Chikkerur said.

Khan had another brush with the law in 2005 when the Karnataka CID (Forests) caught him for his shooting expeditions which is a punishable act under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. He started avoiding Bandipur, but had the gall to send Chikkerur a lawyer’s notice for allegedly “maligning” his name.

Although the case was dropped by the CID (Forests), Khan had by that time earned a degree of notoriety even among his ilk of game hunters.

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Violating the Law

Two years ago, Khan came under the lens of the Himachal Pradesh authorities and wildlife conservationists when he killed two leopards in Thunag-Mandi although his specific task was to put down a man-eating tiger.

Retired IPS officer and Nature Watch India National Convenor Rajeshwar Singh Negi disclosed that the Himachal Pradesh government’s decision to invite Khan in 2014 to kill the man-eating tiger was in complete violation of the Wildlife Protection Act and regulations governing the National Tiger Task Force.

The standard operating procedure to kill a man-eater – whether a tiger or a leopard – is that only a shooter under the employ of a state government’s forest department could legally do so.

No professional hunter can be invited by a state government to kill wildlife. And even if a man-eater is killed, its remains should be burnt to ashes by forest department employees in the presence of senior officials.
Rajeshwar Singh Negi
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‘Nawab’ Shafat Ali Khan came under the lens of the Himachal Pradesh authorities and wildlife conservationists when he killed two leopard cubs. (Photo: iStockphoto)
‘Nawab’ Shafat Ali Khan came under the lens of the Himachal Pradesh authorities and wildlife conservationists when he killed two leopard cubs. (Photo: iStockphoto)
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A Trophy Hunter

Wildlife conservationists are unanimous that Khan is essentially a “trophy hunter” and is an “outcast” among India’s society of professional hunters.

“It is very disturbing that state governments such Himachal Pradesh and Bihar have invited Khan to kill wildlife and that too illegally,” Negi said, adding that the law prohibits state governments to hire professional hunters.

According to Section 62 of the Wildlife Protection Act, state governments can only translocate wildlife if and when they are found to destroy crops or are found to be dangerous or deviant.

A Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) official said under condition of anonymity that his minister Prakash Javadekar’s characterisation that the killing of Nilgais in Bihar was “scientific management” under Section 11B of the Act is “hogwash”.

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Rs 1,500 Per Kill

Incidentally, Khan and his companion hunters who killed Nilgais in Mokama, Buxar, Bhojpur and West Champaran districts of Bihar, were paid Rs 1,500 per kill.

Khan and his two associates are said to have been invited to Mokama by Janata Dal(United) MLC Neeraj Kumar, who contested but lost last year’s assembly election, to finish off the Nilgai population there following pressure from local farmers.

What has stunned wildlife protectionists and conservationists alike is the Centre’s brazen and mindless decision taken in March 2015, when at a meeting of all senior forest officers from the states, Javadekar promised that the Centre would not come in the way of state governments if they wanted to get rid of “vermin” or dangerous/deviant animals.

More recently, wildlife conservationists have been up in arms over the MoEF’s decision to declare rhesus monkeys vermin. This forced them to move court which, while staying the move, has issued notices to the MoEF.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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