India

Assam DFO's private residence in Guwahati raided

15 Jun 2016 | By Ramya
Corruption in Assam's forest department

Only a day after police seized over Rs.62 lakh from Assam Divisional Forest Officer–Mahat Chandra Talukdar's official residence, the Anti-corruption and Vigilance Cell raided his private residence.

Over one-kilogram gold ornaments, Rs.2 crore, 13 passbooks, and bank documents have been seized from Talukdar's private residence in Guwahati.

Deer and tiger skin, ivory parts, and Rs.4 lakh were seized from the residence on Monday.

In context: Corruption in Assam's forest department

13 Jun 2016Anti-corruption team raid DFO's office in Assam

In a major operation, Assam Police's Anti-Corruption Branch had recovered over 66 lakh cash from Divisional Forest Officer–Mohit Chandra Talukdar's office in Dhemaji.

The team found ivory, at least one tiger skin, and body parts of other animals.

Talukdar's arrest came amid Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma's struggle to end rhino poaching in Kaziranga and allegations that forest officials were involved in wildlife crimes.

ACB's TrapEarlier posted in Kaziranga National Park

Talukdar has been serving in Dhemaji district since two years; ACB trapped and caught him while taking a Rs.30,000 bribe from three trucks, which were legally transporting forest produce.

From 1989-93, Talukdar was posted in the Kaziranga National Park; during the period, poachers killed as many as 89 rhinos in the Park.

A rhino horn costs about Rs.1 crore in the international black market.

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Guwahati ACB team and Assam Police's joint operation

Dhemaji SP Swapnaneel Deka stated, “When the ACB team from Guwahati, along with our district police personnel raided his official quarter, it led to recovery of Rs.62.25 lakh in cash, and two fixed deposit documents worth Rs.15 lakh each.”

15 Jun 2016Assam DFO's private residence in Guwahati raided

Over Rs.2 crore was kept in electronic lockers

An Assam Police officer said: “We have so far recovered over Rs.2 crore in cash from the residence of DFO–MC Talukdar. Besides, we have also found about 1 kg gold ornaments, one tiger skin, one deer skin, ivory and several animal parts.”
Court sends Talukdar to a day's police custody

Police CustodyCourt sends Talukdar to a day's police custody

DFO MC Talukdar has reportedly been produced before a local court on Tuesday, which sent him to a day's custody.

The police said that Talukdar's connivance with poachers wasn't ruled out.

After his arrest, several documents related to over seven land plots in Guwahati and at least two plots in Nalbari district of Assam were found, which were worth several crores of rupees.

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Check Gates11 illegal forest check gates

DFO Talukdar had allegedly set up about 11 illegal check gates in the forests since the time he was posted in Dhemaji district.

His subordinates were deployed at those gates to collect cash from trucks and other vehicles carrying any forest produce, whether illegally or legally.

Talukdar allegedly used to collect money from vehicles after seizing them and confining them to his office.

New Assam CM orders immediate closure

Recently, Sarbananda Sonowal became Assam’s Chief Minister on 24 May’16. Soon after taking charge, the new CM ordered the immediate closure of these illegal forest check gates set up by Talukdar followed by their abolishment.

Strict ActionGovernment will not tolerate any corruption: Assam CM

Assam CM Sonowal said that the government wouldn't tolerate such corrupt acts and action will be taken against Talukdar according to the law.

Forest Minister Pramila Brahma stated that Talukdar was placed under suspension, and those involved in the practice would face consequences.

Earlier, Guwahati HC asked the government to frame "appropriate rules" under 1972 Wildlife Act, empowering police in the wildlife crime case.