Babulal the elephant
Babulal, one of the elephants that the forest department of Assam planned to send to Ahmedabad. Image credit - Northeast Now

Caught between legal obstacles and railway’s reluctance, the two desperate “middlemen” of the Jagannath Temple’s elephant deal are now scouting for a “reliable” road transport company.

Sources in Tinsukia told Northeast Now that the two “middlemen” Hukumdar Khan and Imran Khan on Saturday were found trying to establish contacts with a “reliable” logistics company to transport the four elephants to Ahmedabad.

The desperation to transport the elephants to Ahmedabad escalated because of the two cases – a PIL and an instant writ-petition filed in the Gauhati High Court. Both the cases are likely to come up for hearing on Monday.

Secondly, the Northeast Frontier Railway on Friday evening said that they have sought legal advice from the Railway Bhawan on the dispatch of the “special cargo”. The NF Railway is awaiting a clarification on an order of the Supreme Court.

“We have been categorically told not to dispatch the elephants because one PIL has also been filed in the Gauhati High Court,” Masood Alom, the Additional Divisional Railway Manager of Tinsukia told Northeast Now.

The Chief Passenger Traffic Manager of NF Railway has also sought a clarification on the issue from the Assam forest department, sources said.

The CPTM has sought for the clarification as the Assam forest department has been insisting to transport the four elephants with a passenger train, and the Brahmaputra Mail was identified to be the best option.

The desperation to transport the four elephants on Saturday night escalated because the two “middlemen” want to cross the Assam borders by Sunday evening.

Both Hukumdar Khan and Imran Khan know that transporting the four elephants would be difficult once the two cases are heard by the Gauhati High Court.

If the four elephants are transported by road, a fresh transport permit will have to be issued by the Assam Forest Department.

While the issue of transportation of the four elephants to Ahmedabad amidst the heat wave is being reported by the media across the globe, the matter also came up during a zero hour notice in Lok Sabha on Friday.

Assam MP Gaurav Gogoi on Thursday had written a letter to the Union environment and forest minister Prakash Javadekar, he also moved the zero hour notice on Friday.     

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Anirban Roy

Anirban Roy is Editor-in-Chief of Northeast Now. He can be reached at: editor@nenow.in

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