Television and film actor Shruti Alfat and three other co-stars have been arrested for posting pictures with an endangered cobra on social media four months ago.
Media reported that the actor had posted a picture with an Indian Spectacled Cobra last year in October, allegedly as a promotional tool for her television series Nagarjuna – Ek Yoddha. The cobra is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and it is an offence to capture and post pictures and videos with it.
Reports said that several animal activists filed a complaint against Ulfat in the Thane Forest Department. The officials of the department demanded the video with the cobra from Ulfat, her co-actor Pearl Puri and two producers, Utkarsh Bali and Nitin Solanki. The accused had claimed that the cobra was a product of the Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI). After the report of the Kalina forensic lab suggested otherwise, the department arrested the four accused.
Santosh Kank, Range Forest officer, as saying, “We have arrested actress Shruti Ulfat along with 3 others for posing with a cobra and posting the images and videos online in October 2016. They were produced before the Borivali court and have been kept in one-day custody of the Thane range. A CD with the images and videos was sent to the forensic lab and it has been proved that a live snake was used for shooting purposes.”
Kank also added that they are now further probing the matter in order to find out who supplied the cobra to the producers and arrest those miscreants as well.
However, A newspaper reported that Ulfat has rubbished the rumours of her arrest and has clarified her stand to the daily. “Since I had posted a video with the cobra on my Instagram account, they (forest department officials) asked me to come to give the statement. The department officers want to stop this illegal trafficking and I being a responsible citizen will do everything to help them out. Also, my name has been portrayed on a larger scale because I am an actress. Otherwise, it wasn’t my fault at all.”
She went on to say that the makers brought a real cobra on the sets situated near Film City, Goregaon in order to celebrate 100 episodes of the show. However, the electronic media exposed the celebration to the entire world which is where the animal welfare NGOs took notice of the offense. Ulfat clarified that she did not do any crime and hence there was no question of getting arrested, as quoted by a newspaper.