The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) arrested a man and his daughter in Kolkata on Monday and seized elephant tusks and ivory sculptures worth Rs 1 crore from their possession.
“DRI Kolkata got specific intelligence that Sudheesh Chandra Babu and his daughter Amitha SC Babu would be carrying a substantial number of elephant tusks for delivery at Kolkata with the ultimate motive of smuggling it out to Nepal,” said a DRI officer on condition of anonymity.
DRI sources said officers intercepted a car at the junction of Kona Expressway and Carry Road, near Santragachi railway station, and found Sudheesh, Amitha and a driver inside.
“Sudheesh and Amitha admitted that they were carrying elephant tusks concealed in the luggage. They did not have any valid documents to support their possession of the tusks,” read a DRI statement.
DRI sources said officers from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) were called in and they identified the items as elephant tusks. “The elephant tusks weighing 3.144 kg were seized under the Customs Act, 1962 read with the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972,” said the officer.
During interrogation, the accused allegedly revealed that more tusks and statues made of ivory were stored at Rajdanga Main Road, and were to be exported to Nepal via Siliguri.
DRI officers searched the residential premises in the presence of the accused and WCCB officers.
“On search, 10 sculptures of different idols and parts thereof, 02 sculpture bases, 01 packet of jewellery, 09 packets of remnant cut pieces of ivory idols, 04 packets containing ivory dust and 01 comb, all made of ivory, were recovered… All the items were made out of ivory illegally procured from Kerala. The value of the seizure from the residential premises is Rs. 72.35 lakh… The total value of ivory/ivory idols and parts thereof including remnants/ tusks of elephants under seizure adds up to Rs. 1.03 crore,” read the DRI statement.
The DRI officer said Sudheesh looked after the procurement of ivory from Kerala and Amitha looked after sales and supply of complete idols.
The accused allegedly admitted that manufacturing of idols was carried on in their residential premises.
“Sudheesh had been arrested in an elephant poaching case at Edamalayar forest station in Thundathil range and was absconding for the past four years,” said the DRI officer. The family of the accused could not be reached for comment.