There is a string of commonality that has got forest officials from the anti-poaching team on the Assam side of the border worried — one that could prove that rhino poachers who operate here in the state could actually have bases in neighbouring West Bengal and elsewhere.
The issue has come to light with a dreaded poacher, Rati Ram Sharma, who was arrested in Assam recently, revealing contacts in the neighbouring state, something that allowed him to operate with impunity even while he was out on bail.
Sharma is currently being held in judicial custody in Karbi Anglong.
According to sources here, Sharma, who has earned himself the epithet “Rhino Man”, is the kingpin of the illegal trade in animal products in eastern India.
“He is originally from Rajasthan,” sources here said. “Sharma not only buys off horns of rhinos felled by poachers but also gets the job done through various people. He is known to sell horns in Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar for an estimated Rs 50 lakh each,” a source said.
With alarm bells ringing, Assam police have sent out messages to “all concerned” for further information on Sharma. Officials here believe that Sharma, 65, had set up base in Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. His arrest in the Niuland area in Nagaland’s Dimapur on September 28 was based on inputs from the police here, the sources said, adding that he was handed over to Assam police as he has cases pending in the state.
“We have sent messages to police forces of all states asking them to provide us information about him or his accomplices so that we can build a strong case,” the source said. More....