Elephant case: forest officials in the dock

They connived with the accused to forge documents

After the elephant owners, two forest officials of Kerala are facing legal action for “conniving with the accused” in a case related to “forging of documents, illicit transaction of elephants and contempt of court.”

The Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW), Kerala, has initiated action against the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Social Forestry Division, Thiruvananthapuram, and the Range Officer for the “serious disobedience of the directions from the higher-ups” in the case related to A.V. Prasanth, an elephant owner, who allegedly transported an elephant.

Incidentally, the Principal Secretary (Forest) had stalled the actions against Mr. Prasanth and V. Shaji of Kollam and a few others for illegally transporting and trading captive elephants in violation of the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act and Captive Elephants Management Rules.

Besides booking case against them, the department had also seized 15 elephants, who were in the possession of Mr. Shaji and others. The Hindu had reported that the government had asked the CWW to conduct an inquiry into the complaint of the association of elephant owners that the animal owners were harassed by the forest officials.

The two officials, according to a communication issued by the CWW, were asked to report the actions taken in the case within seven days. The Range Forest Officer was summoned to the office and instructed to take action against Mr. Prasanth for the illegal transfer of the elephant, Sankaranayarayan.

After the reminders and repeated oral directions, a case was booked. However, “no further investigation has been made and the accused has not been arrested and produced before the court,” the CWW noted.

The CWW also reported that the action of the officials amounted to “serious disobedience of directions issued by the higher-ups, serious dereliction of duty and their connivance with the accused in the case.”

Responding to the developments, Y.M. Shajikumar, the Deputy Conservator, said he was yet to get any communication in this regard. There were no lapses in the investigation and all possible and legal efforts were made to arrest the accused. Mr. Prasanth could not be arrested as his house was found closed, he said.

He felt that he was being victimised and someone was taking vengeance on him.

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