KOCHI: The arrest of a Malayali father-daughter duo in Kolkata in connection with illegal trade of ivory sculptures is expected to shed more light into the Malayattoor poaching case, the biggest-ever poaching case reported in the country. According to Malayattoor Division Forest Office, around 416 kg of ivory artefacts were seized from the accused persons in connection with the poaching case.
The Forest Department chargesheeted 41 persons and the trial in the case is yet to begin. Sudheesh Chandra Babu, an accused in the case who was absconding, was arrested along with his daughter Amritha by sleuths attached to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) Kolkata unit from Kona Expressway near Santragachi Railway Station on Monday.
Elephant tusks weighing 3.144 kgs, worth `30.93 lakh were seized from the duo. Further, the DRI team raided residential premises on Rajdhanga Road based on the information provided by the duo and seized ivory idols and jewellery worth `72.35 lakh. As per the information provided by the duo, the idols were made from elephant tusks procured from Kerala. Train tickets seized from Sudheesh Chandra Babu corroborated the information that he travelled from Kottayam to Santragachi with the contraband goods.
“Sudheesh Chandra Babu is the husband of ‘Kolkata Thankachi, a key accused in the case. Though the accused persons had revealed the names of the husband and wife we couldn’t collect solid evidence to prove their involvement. We will seek custody of the duo for interrogation, which will help unravel the mystery behind the poaching case,” Thundathil Range Officer Siju Samuel told Express.
According to the forest department, a gang of poachers had killed as many as 14 wild elephants in the forests under Malayattoor and Vazhachal divisions for tusks from 2013 to 2015. A gang led by Aikaramattom Vasu, Saji and Kunjumon killed nine tuskers in Thundathil Range, one in Kuttampuzha range and two each in Athirappally and Sholayar ranges under Vazhachal division for tusks. They transported the tusks to Thiruvananthapuram, where idols were made out of the tusks in the godown of Aji Bright, another accused. Vasu, the key accused in the case committed suicide later.