Officer seeks withdrawal of order prohibiting action against ‘organised mafia’
Listing out the wildlife crimes allegedly committed by elephant traders A.V. Prasanth and V. Shaji and the cases booked against them, the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) has urged the State government to withdraw its order prohibiting further action against the duo.
In his seven-page letter to the Principal Secretary (Forest), the CWW pointed out that Mr. Shaji and Mr. Prasanth were “members of an organised mafia” that has been engaged in committing offences that span over decades. If the government order prohibiting action against them was not withdrawn, it would cause a serious setback to the law enforcement machinery besides helping the culprits evade the legal consequences of their action, he warned.
The State government stalled action against them after considering a submission from the Elephant Owners Association and called for a report on the complaint that officials were harassing the elephant owners.
The Forest Department sprung into action after a video in which Mr. Shaji claiming to have brought over 200 elephants to Kerala from Assam, Bihar and the Andamans went viral. He was also seen recounting the elephant trade he had carried out over the years.
According to the letter, Mr. Shaji has been involved in inter-State illicit purchase and transit of elephants to Kerala and several other offences, including ivory trade. The CWW also pointed out seven wildlife crime cases booked against him in various forest ranges.
The letter noted that Mr. Prasanth indulged in illicit transactions of elephants from other States, forging various documents to facilitate the illegal trade, act of perjury and misleading the court by submitting false documents. The complaint of the association is devoid of merit.
“Even by the admission of elephant traders,” the CWW noted, “the offenders have been violating the provisions of law for long time and the arms of the law are just about to reach them.”
He also pointed out that the officers involved in the operations against elephant traders face tough challenges even beyond their official sphere of works. The CWW defends his action against the law-breakers as strictly in accordance with the law.