JORHAT: Seven persons, allegedly involved in rhino poaching at Kaziranga National Park, were arrested by police and forest staff in Sonitpur district on Friday.
The first arrests were made in the Behali area of the district when a joint team of police and forest staff nabbed three persons from their residence. Forest staff said the trio were involved in a rhino-poaching incident at the national park this week and were on the run.
"Acting on a tip-off, a joint team of police and forest staff launched an operation in the Behali area on Thursday night and caught the three poachers at 3 am. They were identified as Pranab Boruah alias Ghila, Lakhi Dev Saikia and Deven Hazarika. They are now in our custody and interrogation in on,'' said Divisional forest officer (Kaziranga) S K Shil Sharma.
He added, "According to intelligence inputs, the arrested persons were involved with the March 26 rhino killing incident.'' On that day, an adult male rhino was killed in the Rangajan area of Sonitpur district and its horn was cut off. Forest staff, later, found the carcass of the animal.
Similarly, police arrested four persons from the Gohpur area in the district. The arrested were identified as Ananta Das, Gopal Das, Kancha Das and Anil Hazarika. "We arrested the four persons at 1.30 am on Friday and have handed them over to the forest department for interrogation. However, no arms or ammunition were found in their possession,'' a police officer involved in the operation said.
The forest department intensified operation against poachers in Kaziranga and its adjacent areas over the past few days and altogether 12 persons involved in rhino poaching have been arrested this week so far.
On March 26, forest staff arrested five poachers from the Palasguri area in the Agoratoli forest range when they tried to sneak into the forest for poaching. A .303 rifle, a carbine, some ammunition, an axe, a machete and foodgain were found on them.