Bahraich (UP), Dec 26: Ace golfer Jyoti Randhawa was arrested Wednesday on charges of poaching in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve's protected area in Uttar Pradesh, an officer said. Equipment used for hunting, a .22 bore rifle and a deer hide were seized from the international golfer, field officer Ramesh Pandey said.
Randhawa (46), ranked among the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking several times between 2004 and 2009, has a farmhouse in Dudhwa-Katarniaghat forest area and was said to be staying there for the past few days.
The officer said a luxury vehicle with registration number HR-26 DN-4299 was also seized from the golfer whose full name is Jyotinder Singh Randhawa. Police slapped serious charges under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the Indian Forest Act, 1927 against him.
He was later produced before the chief judicial magistrate, Bahraich. Pandey said another person, identified as Mahesh Virajdar, was arrested along with Randhawa near the Motipur range of Katarniaghat in the reserve.
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 committing certain financial irregularities. 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. The Delhi-based golfer was married to actress Chitrangada Singh for 13 years before the couple got divorced in 2014. They have a son, named 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.