Forest Dept. stretching beyond its limit

Probe in the elephant poaching case has reached a point where CBI assistance has become crucial.

Updated - October 06, 2015 08:22 am IST

Published - October 06, 2015 12:00 am IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:

The Forest and Wildlife Department has been stretching the resources under its disposal for finding vital leads in the elephant poaching case.

However, the limitations have now threatened to hinder the progress of investigation.

Boost to probe

The arrests of Umesh Agarwal from Delhi and Rajan alias Eagle Rajan on Sunday from Thiruvananthapuram will boost the ongoing probe carried out by the department.

However, the probe has reached a point where the assistance of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has become crucial.

“We have done our best to bring those responsible for the ivory trade to book. However, despite having done much of the ground work, further progress will be possible only with the help of an agency such as the CBI as the purview of the investigation will have to be extended beyond the boundaries of the State,” a senior official, who is part of the investigating team, told The Hindu .

Recounting the efforts put in to nab Umesh Agarwal, a key accused in the case, the official said the assistance of the Delhi police had to be sought for his arrest.

“Though we were given a flight to the Cochin International Airport from New Delhi, the accused feigned discomfort to slow us down. This compelled us to seek medical assistance to ensure his good health. We were left with no option but to board a flight to Bengaluru and later, another one to Coimbatore. A team of officials from the Malayatoor forest division were entrusted with the task of bringing the accused from Coimbatore. When working outside our jurisdiction, we are often forced to overcome such eventualities and also incur unforeseen expenses,” he said.

According to him, while the department has ensured much progress in the case, the CBI would have to undertake a peripheral role, especially while apprehending those from outside the State. The mystery surrounding the death of Aickara Vasu, one of the prime accused, has also necessitated a CBI probe. Official sources said that over 20 guns, large quantities of gunpowder, and iron spikes that were used to torture and hunt down elephants have been recovered so far.

While official statistics said that 18 elephants had been poached within two years, unconfirmed reports pointed towards a larger figure.

Over 50 persons had been arrested in connection with the case, sources said.

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