| Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi with wife Sharmila. A file picture
New Delhi/Chandigarh, June 5: The Tiger has found himself in a habitat that snared his son seven years ago.
Mansur Ali Khan “Tiger” Pataudi, Indian cricket’s first glamour boy, has come under investigation by Haryana police following the discovery of three carcasses from a vehicle he was travelling in on Friday night.
Animal rights activists claimed that one of the carcasses was that of a black buck but the police said it was a “deer” and other details could be ascertained only after a post-mortem. The specification of the species is crucial because killing a black buck, an endangered animal protected under wildlife law, is a graver offence. The other carcasses were those of rabbits.
The vehicle ' part of a two-car convoy carrying eight people ' was stopped at Jhajjar, 65 km from Delhi and home to the Bhindawas bird sanctuary. The Pataudi estate is also in Haryana.
A police officer said the carcasses were bullet-riddled, and two guns, 50 cartridges and two searchlights were found in the vehicles. Pataudi was not driving the vehicle, the ownership of which is yet to be established.
The police said they have made a “note in the daily diary register”. Such an entry does not amount to the formal registration of a case, but it recognises that a complaint has been received. “No formal case has been registered,” said V.N. Rai, the inspector-general of police, Rohtak range.
Whether it would be upgraded to a case or not will depend on the outcome of the post-mortem of the carcasses that have been brought to Delhi.
In 1998, Pataudi’s son Saif Ali Khan and several other actors were booked for the alleged killing of two black bucks in Rajasthan. The prime accused in the case is Salman Khan.
Besides Pataudi, the group had seven people who have been described as the former Indian cricket captain’s friends. They have been identified as Shashi Singh, Dyal Singh, Balwan Singh, Shahid Ahmad, Mohammad Ayub, Yasudin and Madan.
All were taken to the local police station. But Rai said Pataudi has not been questioned so far as he was not driving the vehicle.
Pataudi could not be contacted for comment despite several calls to his Delhi home.
A political twist was added with Maneka Gandhi, animal rights crusader and a member of the BJP-led combine, claiming that the activists of her NGO, People for Animals (PFA), had alerted the police.
“It is our activists who caught him. He goes hunting every week. Our PFA activists have been on their trail for months and the police acted on a tip-off. Every time he gets into trouble for shooting, they use Congress connections to get off,” Maneka told The Telegraph. Pataudi has had a long association with the Congress.
PFA activist Naresh Kadyan, who said he was on the spot when the vehicles were stopped, claimed that “the police tried to suppress the case. They had even buried the carcasses near the forest office”.
Asked how the carcasses were recovered, Kadyan said: “We had our own intelligence. We found the carcass of the black buck and not the rabbits. The forelegs were missing but the head was intact. The skin of the buck looked as if it was roasted.” But the police said all three carcasses have been taken to the Delhi zoo for post-mortem.
The PFA activists alleged that the police are trying to dilute the case by raising questions about the species. “They are trying to pass the buck off as a nilgai. If it is a nilgai, it will be a bailable offence and only a fine needs to be paid. However, if it is a black buck, it is a non-bailable offence,” Kadyan said.