Rohit Khanna

Executive Producer
Special Projects CNN-IBN , Founder Member Network18

There are many of us who claim to be lovers of wildlife and the environment. Some of us read wildlife and green journals to keep
ourselves informed. Some of us drop money into collection boxes for green causes at shopping malls. Many of us travel into game
sanctuaries, take our children on ‘fun safaris’ to sensitise them. A few even report on environment issues, largely covering `green’
seminars, accepting junkets from tourist departments, etc.Everyone in the categories above are surely lovers of wildlife… but
our commitment always falls short of doing what is REALLY required.Manmohan is the guy who, to my mind, really put his money where his
mouth is, by putting his life on the line and going undercover to expose the poaching and trader gangs who are the single biggest reason
for the vanishing of India’s big cats from the wild.To make a living as a crime reporter, specializing in sting
operations, one can take the low-risk route and embarrass lower rung govt officials who take petty bribes, or school vice principals asking
for a `donation’. But to spend two months with a hidden identity in the Kumaon and Nepal,patiently penetrating the highly dangerous and
secretive gangs of tiger and leopard skin poachers and traders, posing as a potential buyer, takes an unusually high level of courage. And
more than the courage, it must surely mean that the person doing this feels very very strongly about the issue of poaching, and is a true
lover of wildlife and the environment. THAT’S the kind of person Manmohan Gupta is.

It was my job at CNN-IBN to produce for television the shocking evidence caught on camera by Manmohan. My job was made easy by the
completeness of his Investigation. Illicit traders spelt out that tiger skins were stored in Nepal, away from Indian authorities. They
spelt out that cross-border trading ‘melas’ organized by Nepal and India were the perfect cover for the smuggling in skins and animal
parts. Manmohan was actually taken to the remote hide-outs up in the mountains where poached tiger-skins were kept hidden. For me, after
years in the news business,this was `never-seen-before’ footage! It took remarkable passion and courage to achieve this. On an equally
dangerous 2nd leg of his Investigation Manmohan was able to meet and film the notorious Balku gang, who operate in the Corbett National
Park, which was once synonymous with the Tiger. On camera, Balku himself and his gang members showed Manmohan tiger skins and several
kilos of equally sought after tiger bones and claws. Manmohan was also able to film on hidden camera, dealers showing him leopard and even
otter skins, again animals on the highly endangered list.It was a pleasure producing these stories for CNN-IBN. When aired, the
films shocked the viewers, they also led to some arrests of poachers and dealers by the Uttarakhand police. Manmohan’s priceless video with
these poachers and traders on camera, showing off their illegal skins,has proved to be extremely valuable evidence in criminal trials that
are now underway. If convictions are handed out, credit must surely go to Manmohan’s passion for wildlife
All I can say as a friend, former colleague and lifelong well-wisher…
is.. HATS OFF!!
I wish Manmohan’s NGO all the very best, I am sure he will continue to do work that will truly make a difference ! 

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