Kolkata, Mar 14: A dad and daughter from Kerala arrested with banned ivory sculptures and elephant tusk worth Rs 34 lakh in Kolkata.
Father Sudheesh Chandra Babu,(67) and his daughter Amitha SC Babu (37) have been arrested early this week when their chartered vehicle was frisked at Kona Expressway on their temporary home in south Kolkata. All three have been arrested following investigations by the Directorate of Revenue Services (DRI), a central agency.
The father brought the ivory and elephant tusk from Kottayam. The duo used to bring elephant tusks from Kerala and sculpted to different kind of small sized statutes, mainly Hindu god and goddess. A linkman, Gautam Bhaskar, a resident of Jiagunj of Murshidabad district, also arrested in this connection. The linkman used to exports those sculptors to foreign counties through the corridor of Siliguri in north Bengal to Bangladesh, and Nepal.
Two pieces of elephant tusk weighing around 3 kgs were found when the DRI arrested them. Later a raid at their temporary residence at Kasba seized several carved ivory statuettes. The combined worth of the hauls would be several crores of rupees. The DRI got inputs from the Wild Life Crime Bureau in Kerala and since then the DRI laid a trap and finally arrested the dad and daughter red handed.
“Sudheesh and Amitha admitted that they were carrying elephant tusks concealed in the luggage. They did not have any valid documents to support their possession of the tusks,” read a DRI statement.
DRI sources said officers from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) were called in and they identified the items as elephant tusks. “The elephant tusks weighing 3.144 kg were seized under the Customs Act, 1962 read with the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” said the officer.
“The value of the seizure from the residential premises is Rs. 72.35 lakh… The total value of ivory/ivory idols and parts thereof including remnants/ tusks of elephants under seizure adds up to Rs. 1.03 crore,” read the DRI statement.
During interrogation, the accused allegedly revealed that more tusks and statues made of ivory were stored at Rajdanga Main Road, and were to be exported to Nepal via Siliguri.
Sudheesh’s wife, wanted in a 2015 elephant poaching case in Kerala, and their son are absconding, the official said. In another case, the DRI also seized a covered truck from port area and recovered red sandal woods weighing about 6790 kgs, worth over Rs 3.5 crores. Two people have been arrested in this connection. It is not sure whether Sudheesh and Amitha have some involvement in this smuggling case also. UNI