The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized elephants’ tusks worth more than Rs 10 crore and arrested two residents of Assam on Saturday afternoon.
The duo, sources said, were carrying the tusks from Assam to Uttar Pradesh and had allegedly planned to smuggle the same into Nepal.
Tusks weighing 7.320 kilos, the cost of which is around Rs 10 crore, were found in the possession of Suleman Khan and Ratan Goala, both residents of Hojai district in Assam.
“They were arrested under the Customs Act, 1962, and produced in the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court in Siliguri today (Sunday). The court remanded them in judicial custody for one day and will be produced in court again tomorrow,” DRI’s lawyer Ratan Banik said.
Sources said the DRI had received a tip-off that ivory would be illegally transported through Siliguri by train.
A DRI team reached New Jalpaiguri station and raided the New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express that had arrived from the Northeast. Khan and Goala were apprehended and taken to the office of the DRI here with their baggage.
“We searched their luggage and found the tusks,” said a source.
In total, there were three ivory pieces, one in conical and two in cylindrical shapes. They were covered with thick adhesive tapes and kept in a bag.
DRI officials called representatives of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau for the verification of elephant tusks. They checked the objects and confirmed that the seized articles were the tusks of the Asiatic elephant, which is a schedule-I animal, protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Poaching, trafficking or trading of the animal or its body parts is strictly prohibited.