DIGBOI, June 18 - Elephant smuggler Md Mumtaj Siddique (70) of Borhapjan under Doomdooma Police Station in Tinsukia district was arrested by an Assam Police team from Kakopather here on late Thursday evening for his alleged involvement in forging documents that he had produced earlier while claiming his rights over the two seized elephants (calves) in Digboi Saraipung case No 03/2016 dated 28.04.2016.
According to Ranjan Kumar Das, the then DFO Digboi Division and the present Conservator of Forests, Assam Eastern Circle the accused had produced two fake birth certificates against the two seized calves in the said Saraipung case issued under the seal and signature of Kalpa Nath Gogoi the then Kakopather Veterinary Officer which was subsequently put under investigation by the investigating officer, the present ACF Digboi Division Jananaranjan Das. On the hearing of the case on July 26, 2016, Gogoi pleaded innocence and immediately filed an FIR against the accused Siddique at Kakopather Police Station on August 10, 2017 for the criminal act of forgery.
Based on the FIR lodged by Gogoi, (Kakopather PS case No 37/2016 u/s 468/471 IPC), the accused was arrested from Doomdooma on Thursday evening. �The smuggler who was released on bail granted on 19.07.2016 against the Saraipung Case prosecuted u/s 9, 39, 48 (A), 49(B), 51,52 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 was re-arrested almost in the same case wherein he had forged the documents to bring the wildlife properties under his possession unlawfully�, said a top District Police official.
It may be recalled here that a mahout and his helper along with female elephants aged 7 to 9 years were on their way to Merapani in Golaghat district when a team of Digboi forest officials with the then DFO RK Das intercepted them at Badhoi Panchali. The persons did not have with them any legal documents to ascertain the ownership nor were the elephants micro-chipped for legal identification. The elephants were not even fully tamed, indicating that they were freshly captured from the wild. Accordingly, confiscation of two female elephants at Badhoi Panchali in Dibrugarh district in April 2016 led to the arrest of three persons � a mahout, his helper and a middleman of the racket Rahim Hussain on June 17.
Selling elephants is barred under Indian law and even getting permission to move domesticated elephants between states is a lengthy and complicated procedure.
However, authorities say there is thriving trade in elephants, with many wealthy landowners in the States of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh buying elephants as status symbols.