By Vijay Pinjarkar
NAGPUR: In another twist in the elephant's tail, forest department officials on Monday finally arrested the owner and care taker of three elephants for violating wildlife and transport permit rules in bringing the pachyderms to the city from Uttar Pradesh.
On December 31, three elephants — two males named Rajmangal and Bhola, and female Rani — had entered the city for a religious function planned at Reshimbagh by a Jain temple at Itwari Nehru Putla.
A police complaint was lodged by People For Animal (PFA) activist Karishma Galani after she spotted the elephants near Gitanjali talkies. Nagpur forest officials, who had earlier granted permission to use the elephants for religious purpose for five days at Reshimbagh, had to change tack after minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi demanded action.
It seems the forest officials had granted permission without verifying any documents. The owner, Idris Badruddin Ahmed from Bara Gharia in Hamirpur district of Uttar Pradesh, was asked to produce original documents.
On Monday, when he reached Nagpur, he could not produce the mandatory transport permit to bring the elephants to the city. This violation leads to confiscation of animals.
Ahmed was arrested after detailed investigations during the day. He has been booked under various sections of Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Later in the evening, Ahmed was produced before judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) by Seminary Hills range forest officer (RFO) SS Kolankar. He has been granted conditional bail by the court. The matter will be heard on January 10. Till then, the elephants will be detained at Reshimbagh.
Though the forest department claims that the owner has all the valid ownership papers, Galani says the five-year registration of elephants had lapsed in 2011. Besides, all the transportation norms, most importantly requirement of a vehicle if elephants are to be transported beyond 50km, has been violated.
Though the fate of the elephants will depend on the outcome of court result, Galani says the tuskers should be sent to the Elephant Conservation & Care Center at Agra, where they will at least lead a peaceful life.