DIGBOI, June 17: A known face across the State of Assam for smuggling elephants, Md Mumtaj Siddique (70) of Borhapjan under Doomdooma Police Station in Tinsukia district was arrested by Kakopather team of Assam Police recently for his alleged involvement in forging documents that he had produced earlier while claiming his right over two seized elephants (calves) in Digboi Saraipung case No 03/2016 dated 28.04.2016. According to Ranjan Kumar Das, the then DFO of Digboi Division and present Conservator of Forest, Assam Eastern Circle, the accused had produced two fake birth certificates against the two seized calves earlier in the Saraipung case, issued under the seal and signature of Kalpa Nath Gogoi, the then Kakopather Veterinary Officer. The case was investigated by an assigned I/O and present ACF of Digboi Division, Jananaranjan Das. In a hearing on 26.07.2016, Gogoi pleaded innocent in the case and immediately lodged an FIR to this effect against Siddique at Kakopather Police Station on August 10, 2017 for his criminal act of forgery.
According to police sources, based on the FIR lodged by Kalpa Nath Gogoi at Kakopather PS (case no. 37/2016 u/s 468/471 IPC), the accused was arrested from Doomdoma recently. “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.
A mahout and his helper, along with female elephants aged 7 to 9 years, were on their way to Merapani in Golaghat district when the team 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. Even the elephants were not 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.
“It is here that Siddique had procured forged documents to ascertain his ownership,” said Ranjan Kumar Das, adding, “It still pains me to recall my tenure as DFO when I was alleged to have a nexus with Siddique while I was fighting against elephant smugglers in Digboi and Doomdooma Division, which lead to the arrest of Siddique.” “Wildlife Crime Control Bureau assistant director KK Sarma was also involved in the investigation of the elephant smuggling racket,” said Das.