Bahraich (UP): Professional golfer Jyoti Singh Randhawa, who was arrested on Wednesday on charges of illegal hunting in Uttar Pradesh's Bahraich, was sent to 14-day judicial custody by a court.
Randhawa, along with former Navy captain Mahesh Virajdar, were traveling in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve's protected area in an Isuzu pick-up truck (HR26 DN 4299). A combined team of forest officials, range staff and STPF (Special Tiger Protection Force) jawans intercepted a vehicle on suspicious accounts in Motipur Range of Katerniaghat.
While search operations, a dead fowl, skin of wild boar, .22 bore rifle, binoculars, three empty cartridges, 80 live cartridges, magazine, rangefinder, two mobile searchlight torches, Rs 36,600 cash was recovered from the vehicle.
Field director of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve Ramesh Pandey alleged that the 46-year-old golfer appeared to be in an inebriated state. Pandey added that the luxury SUV vehicle in which they were traveling along with other items found from the golfer has been seized.
Police slapped serious charges under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the Indian Forest Act, 1927 against the two. They were produced before magistrate Shikha Yadav, who denied them bail and remanded them in judicial custody for 14 days.
Randhawa, ranked among the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking several times between 2004 and 2009, has a farm house in Dudhwa-Katarniaghat forest area and was said to be staying there for the past few days.
Virajdar has served the Indian Navy as a Captain, a post equivalent to Colonel in the Indian Army and Group Captain in the IAF. He was court-martialled four years ago on charges of financial irregularities.
The Delhi-based golfer was married to actress Chitrangada Singh for 13 years before they divorced in 2014. They have a son, Zorawar, from the marriage.
The Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, which is about 200 km from state capital Lucknow, is a part of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.
It covers an area of 400.6 sq km in Terai belt of Bahraich district.
In 1987, it was brought under the purview of the 'Project Tiger'. It provides strategic connectivity between tiger habitats of Dudhwa and Kishanpur in India and the Bardia National Park in Nepal.
Randhawa, who turned professional in 1994, has been a well-known name in Indian golf. He won 16 professional titles in all, eight of them on the Asian Tour. He also has a Japan Tour title to his credit and topped the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2002.
He is a three-time winner at the prestigious Indian Open. But his form had been on the wane and the last time he won a title was back in 2009 -- the Thailand Open. Randhawa won seven titles on the Professional Gold Tour of India (PGTI), making him a celebrated name in the domestic circuit.
With agency inputs