(Eds: Updating with fresh developments, including judicial remand; details of arrest) Bahraich (UP), Dec 26 (PTI) Ace golfer Jyoti Randhawa was arrested Wednesday on charges of poaching in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve’s protected area in Uttar Pradesh and remanded in 14-day judicial custody by a court, an officer said.

Randhawa (46) was hunting in the forest area near the Motipur range along with his associate Mahesh Virajdar and was in possession of a loaded .22 bore rifle when both of them were arrested, field director of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve Ramesh Pandey alleged.

A deer hide, equipment used for hunting, the telescope-mounted .22 bore rifle, 80 live cartridges and three empty shells and some cash were seized from the SUV in which the two were travelling, he said.

The officer alleged that Randhawa appeared to be in an inebriated state.

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.

Pandey said the luxury SUV vehicle with registration number HR-26 DN-4299 was also seized from the golfer whose full name is Jyotinder Singh Randhawa.

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.

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 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.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.