GUWAHATI, Sept 21 - The arrest of two notorious poachers � Maqbul Ali and Noor Kasem � from Coonoor in Tamil Nadu in connection with killing of rhinos in Kaziranga National Park has come as a revelation, hinting at the involvement of a former senior Congress minister in the nefarious rhino poaching racket.
The duo was brought to Guwahati yesterday and are being questioned. The arrested duo during their interrogation said that former minister Noorjamal Sarkar�s PSO Azhar Ali was involved in rhino poaching. Azhar and four of their accomplices are reportedly absconding.
The duo has confessed to the killing of a rhino and her calf in Kaziranga on August 3.
Commenting on the developments, Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma said that the confession of the duo indicated the involvement of the former minister and that if further investigation established his involvement, the law would take its own course.
�It�s quite disturbing if an elected people�s representative is found to be involved in so heinous a crime like rhino poaching. We will get to the roots of the development and no guilty � whatsoever position he holds � will be spared if we get the required evidence,� Brahma told the media.
A conservationist, who did not wish to be named, said that the developments could well blow the lid off a sinister illegal wildlife body part trade racket involving poachers, police and politicians. �The need is to take the investigation to its logical conclusion and unearth the nefarious goings-on that are likely to involve the high and the mighty,� he added.
Sarkar, meanwhile, told the media that he could not be held responsible for crimes committed by his PSO without his knowledge. �Our PSOs are provided by the Assam Police and they keep on changing. How do I know if my PSO commits a crime without my knowledge,� he said.
Our Kaziranga Correspondent adds: In a significant achievement, officials of Kaziranga National Park and Assam Police managed to arrest the two poachers in Tamil Nadu with the help of Coonoor Superintendent of Police and his team on September 18. The Forest Department of Coonoor also extended help to the Assam officials in the search operation.
Informing this, Kaziranga ACF Ramen Das said both the poachers were involved in killing of a female rhino and her calf on August 3 this year at Amkathoni under the Bagori Range of the national park. Meanwhile, there is an allegation of involvement of a PSO of former minister in the killing of rhinos.
Sources said another five poachers involved in the illegal act are absconding.
A section of tourists in Kaziranga has expressed serious concern over the alleged nexus of politicians, police and poachers, and demanded that the State Government initiated a thorough inquiry and punished those found guilty.