Poacher Saravanan arrested in Salem

Poacher Saravanan arrested in Salem

Small-time poacher ‘Yaanai Veerappan’, alias Saravanan, wanted by the Karnataka forest force, was arrested by the Tamil Nadu police at Mettur taluk in Oonjankorai village in Salem district on Tuesday night.

Police sources in Chennai said on Wednesday that the 46-year-old Saravanan, wanted for poaching animals, especially elephants for their tusks near the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka forest areas, was being chased by the Karnataka’s Special Task Force (KSTF) from the  Male Mahadeshwara Hills wildlife sanctuary area in the last one week.

Following a request from the KSTF for support to nab the poacher, the Tamil Nadu police apprehended Saravanan near Oonjankorai village and brought him to Kolathur police station near Salem for interrogation.

Though the forest officials were on their way to Kolathur to take Saravanan into custody, the Mettur police produced him before a magistrate who remanded him in judicial custody. Police sources said he was lodged in the Salem jail. The Tamil Nadu police said Saravanan may be handed over to their Karnataka counterpart after completing a thorough investigation.

Body warrant

Officials of the Male Mahadeshwara Hills Wildlife Division have sought a body warrant against Saravanan. While media reports compared him to forest brigand Veerappan, the police and the Forest department dismissed the description as “blown out of proportion.”

Officials said the charges against him were petty, and the arrest in Tamil Nadu pertained to a poaching case dating back to 2012 in the Mettur forest range. Javed Mumthaz, Deputy Conservator of Forests, MM Hills Wildlife Division, said Saravanan was accused in five to six cases in old Kollegal forest division and MM Hills division. 

“We will seek a body warrant and try him in Kollegal court, while the Tamil Nadu forest department will continue proceedings in Mettur court,” he said. A decision on the body warrant against Saravanan is still awaited, he added.

Dismissing as baseless, reports that Saravanan had poached ‘five to six’ elephants, Mumthaz added that only one of the cases against him was related to smuggling of tusks, which supposedly was removed from a dead elephant.

He said the separation of Kollegal forest division into different units had led to increased patrolling, thus bringing down poaching activities.

“Poaching has become a risky affair with cases filed regularly against people who poach even small herbivores. Saravanan’s crimes have been blown out of proportion,” he said.

Rajendra Prasad, Superintendent of Police, Chamarajanagar, who echoed a similar opinion, said Saravanan had recently appeared for a hearing at Kollegal court on May 30. “Following reports of his poaching, I had instructed MM Hills police to check on his whereabouts. He was present at his home in Govindapadi, Salem district, when the police raided him. If he had such notoriety, we would have nabbed him long ago,” he said.