A group of five youth from Kerala were arrested allegedly for hunting python and monitor lizard in a private tea estate near Gudalur on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border on Sunday night.
Sources said that the five-member gang from Kerala was reportedly wandering in a tea estate near Gudalur with a gun on Sunday night. Estate officials, who spotted the gang, immediately informed the Devala police station.
Suspecting that the gang members might be Naxalites, the Devala police alerted the STF personnel, who rushed to the spot and caught the them.
During enquiries, it was confirmed that the gang members were not Naxalites and the STF handed over them with the seized country gun, meat of python and a dead monitor lizard to the Devala police station.
Devala police detained the gang in the station throughout Sunday night and handed over the five persons to the Devala Forest Range Office in Gudalur Forest Division on Monday as the crime comes under the jurisdiction of the forest department.
Devala Forest ranger Ramachandran booked a case against the gang members and initiated an investigation. The arrested persons were identified as Renish (21), Manoj Babu (35), Babu (22), Biju (36) and Sarputhin (22). All belonged to Maruthai area in Vazhikadu in Kerala.
The forest ranger said, “We are surprised to see the gang possessing snake meat, instead of its skin. They had around 7 kg of python meat, but had disposed its skin. Though a thorough search for the skin was launched, it could not be traced anywhere. Further investigations are on to find out whether the gang killed the python to consume or use it for medicinal purposes. However, we heard that Bengal monitor lizard (Indian monitor lizard) was killed and smuggled for human consumption.”