The Gauhati High Court has stopped illegal transportation of two elephants from Arunachal Pradesh sold off to a man in Odisha.
According to a media report, the two elephants – Lakhi Prasad and Hari Prasad – were seized while being illegally transported on commercial consideration from Arunachal Pradesh to Odisha via Assam in April this year.
In an order, issued on August 25, Justice Rumi Kumari Phukan quashed an earlier order by additional sessions judge, which gave the custody of the elephants to accused Chow Sonjit Pomong, a resident of Arunachal Pradesh.
It has been reported that the rescued elephants are currently in the custody of the Assam forest and wildlife department and have been kept in Kaziranga National Park.
According to the report, nearly 200 elephants from the region have been sold off to different states outside the region.
Pomong, in his statement to Assam forest officials, admitted that one Barun Kumar Singh transferred Rs 9 lakh for Lakhi Prasad and Rs 17 lakh for Hari Prasad to his bank account.
The accused also stated that Singh approached him in search of the elephants and had prepared documents on his behalf.
He has mentioned that the process to sell the elephants started in 2017 when he met Singh, who used to provide money in cash to the family of his late brother, Chow Moloy Pomong, for the sale of elephants.
In his statement, Pomong said Barun Kumar Singh had informed that the elephants would be used for religious purposes.
However, he could neither produce any documents from any temple nor he could disclose the religious organization to which the elephants would be transported, the judge stated.
Justice Phukan said: “More importantly, the respondent no.1/accused further confessed about the transaction of
money for transfer of the elephants in his bank account from Barun Kumar Singh’s account.”
“In view of such confessional statement made by respondent no.1/accused on 07.06.2021, it is apparent that the elephants were transported on commercial consideration in violation of Section 43 of the Act,” Justice Phukan said.
Pomong claimed himself as the owner of the two elephants.
The two elephants were being transported in a truck from Lathao in Namsai district of Arunachal Pradesh to one Rabindra Kumar Singh of Shastri Nagar of Semiliguda in Koraput district of Odisha.
However, on suspicion, the truck was stopped by the Doomdooma divisional forest officer in Assam’s Tinsukia district and the jumbos were rescued.
The forest official arrested truck driver Meghan Kumar and Barun Kumar Singh.
Pomong approached the CJM court in Tinsukia seeking custody of the two elephants but his plea was rejected.
He then approached the revision court and on June 24, the additional sessions judge, No. 2 (FTC), Tinsukia, allowed the revision and the seized elephants were returned to his custody.
But the Assam government challenged the revision court’s order in the Gauhati High Court on the grounds that the two elephants were illegally transported as there were no valid documents like transit permit for transporting
the animals outside the state or agreement of the recipient organization.
There was also no intimation from the authorities in Arunachal Pradesh and finally, the Gauhati High Court intervened and came to the rescue of the two jumbos.