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Two held with elephant tusk

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

In a major seizure of wildlife articles, the Siliguri Regional Unit of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) recovered elephant tusks as they were being smuggled to Nepal on Thursday.

The tusks are worth more than Rs 1 crore in the international market, officials said. Based on a tip-off, DRI sleuths apprehended Saiful Islam of Lakhimpur district of Assam and Santosh Pradhan of Siliguri from a bus that just arrived here from Assam.

“They had come from Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh in a bus. One Babuhai of Lakhimpur handed over to them a tusk weighing 12.410 kg. The tusk was suspected to be smuggled to Nepal. The DRI apprehended them at Mallaguri in Siliguri on Thursday.

The original tusk was more than three feet long and was cut into three pieces to be carried in a bag. The seizure is very significant,” said the additional standing counsel, government of India, Ratan Banik. The value of the tusk has been estimated as Rs 1,11,69,000.

Mr Banik said the seizure showed how much smuggling of wildlife articles is going on by using Siliguri as the corridor. A full-grown elephant is suspected to have been poached in Assam for the tusk. “The DRI successfully busted a racket, and search is underway to trace other persons associated with the illegal trade,” he added.

The arrested have been booked under Section 104 of the Customs Act, 1962, and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Forest officials arrested six poachers, including a sharp shooter, from Arunachal Pradesh–Marto Riba–a resident of West Siang district on 7 February after they killed a rhino in the Jaldapara National Park. The duo was produced in the Siliguri Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court on Friday.