THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Five persons were arrested on Monday in connection with theft of two elephant tusks worth Rs 2 lakh from the Palode Forest Range Office. Vinod, 24, of Peringammala; Syam, 29, of Thonnackal; Vipin Kumar, 28, of Mannattukaav; Ravi Kumar, 29, of Pothencode; and Rajeev, 32, of Kariyam were those arrested from their houses and nearby areas. Two elephant tusks, weighing 18 kilograms, had gone missing from the Forest Range Office between March 8 and March 12. The theft was discovered in an inspection by the Range Officers on March 12. The tusks, which were removed from a dead elephant of Venjarammood, had been kept in the office since May 2010.
Police said that one of the arrested, Vinod, who had gone for mason work at the Range Office, noticed the tusks there and stole it with the help of his brother-in-law and another accused, Syam.
They approached Vipin Kumar, an interior decorator, to sell the tusks. Reji Kumar and Rajeev were also middlemen in the sale.
“Only Vinod and Syam knew that the tusks were stolen. They convinced others that the tusks belonged to a traditional Nair family which wanted to sell them owing to financial crunch. By saying so, they succeeded in selling the tusks.
‘‘But when reports appeared in the media about the theft, the person who bought the tusks returned them. Vinod and Syam were compelled to abandon the tusks as they realised that they would be caught.
‘‘They left the tusks near the Muthumari Amman Kovil near Nedumangad after sprinkling chilli powder on them to evade the sniffer dogs,” said Muhammed Shafi, DySP, Nedumangad.