Kerala man wanted in 5 captive elephant smuggling cases arrested in Navi Mumbai

A 56-year-old man from Kerala, who had been on the run after five cases of smuggling captive elephants were registered against him in that State, has been arrested from Koparkhairane by the Maharashtra Forest Department and the Navi Mumbai Police.

Yogesh Nilkanth Warkad, regional deputy director (RDD), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Western Region, said every elephant in Kerala was tagged and it was not permitted to domesticate elephant from other State. “The accused, V. Shaji, has smuggled many elephants into Kerala and the police there had seized two elephants from him after which he went absconding,” he said.

The information was passed on to the Maharashtra Forest Department by Kerala chief wildlife warden Surendra Kumar. “We started looking for Mr. Shaji, who was wanted in five different cases of illegal dealing of live captive elephants registered at Kollam in Kerala and had been absconding for six months. Since his mobile was switched off, tracing him was a challenge,” Mr. Warkad said.

Mr. Warkad then contacted Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Pravin Kumar Patil and requested his coordination in apprehending the accused.

Two joint teams of WCCB and the Navi Mumbai Crime Branch carried out a search and identified two suspected locations.

Finally, on Wednesday, Mr. Shaji was arrested from Koparkhairane. “He was taken to the office of the RDD, WCCB, and later produced before the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Vashi. We obtained a transit remand till midnight of Sunday. Meanwhile, a Kerala Forest Department team reached Navi Mumbai and the accused was handed over to the team on Friday evening,” Mr. Warkad said.

On reaching Kerala, the accused was produced before the Punalur court in Kollam district. He told the police that he had been staying in a relative’s vacant house in Koparkhairane for the last one month.

As per his identity card, Mr. Shaji is a resident of Pattambi in north Kerala while the cases registered against him are in south Kerala. Further investigations are being conducted by the Kerala Forest Department.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 12:26:52 PM |

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