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Barak Valley for its strategic location bordering Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya and the district of Dima Hasao has been infamous for it being a corridor of extremists, smugglers, illegal transportation of Burmese betel nuts, black diamond and now trafficking in wild life with overseas connections. End of July was witness to the great achievement of Cachar forest division and police.  It was close to midnight of July 29 when a truck with caged animals and exotic birds after crossing the Mizoram check gate of Vereingte, also called IPL post, moved towards the Lyllapur police outpost of Cachar in Assam, a few yards away in the eerie silence of night. The alert and vigilant police team led by Apan Chandra Paul in charge Lyllapur detained the truck, signalled the drivers, Narsimha Reddy and Navnath Tukaram, to park the vehicle aside the NH 54. A foul smell from the truck aroused their suspicion about the consignments. The search with flaming torch showed under the cartons of rotting seasonal fruits were camouflaged one Kangaroo, 6 macaw parrots, three tortoises and two monkeys, all caged in wooden boxes.

Even as the Cachar police was all excited and in exult, forest officials came forward to claim before the media that it was not the police, but their team led by Range Officer of Dholai forest division and Beat Officer of Lyllapur and forest protection force personnel who first intercepted the truck and then took the help of police to seize the caged animals and birds. Parimal Suklabaidya, Forest Minister, who comes from Dholai constituency, on his Face Book page applauded the officials and guards of his department for the success. In this claim and counterclaim of seizure, media, print and electronic, flashing the news, however, maintained the balance, calling it joint operation.

In fact, on the front of seizure was the police team of Lyllapur and Dholai. Deputy Superintendent of Police (Hqrs) Bhargava Goswami told ‘Eastern Panorama, “It was not a solo operation as claimed by the forest department, but a joint operation in which our men played their own role. It is also not to take credit who did first, but to put the record straight for the information of the media and the people.” The fact is that, it were the police contingent of Lyllapur and Dholai who during patrolling of the most vulnerable stretch of NH 54 to Mizoram detained the truck coming from the hill state. After intercepting the truck, the beat and the range officers of Lyllapur and Dholai who were on routine check of trucks carrying illegal forest materials on the highway were informed who took the responsibility of the wild species for care and protection.

Apan Chandra Paul in charge Lyllapur check post and Shahabuddin Barbhuiya officer in charge Dholai police station seemed pained and peeved at the version of the forest department to put them on the backburner, as if the police was watching the midnight operation from the sideline. Of concern is the very question of survival of kangaroo in Indian climate, according to wild life experts.

Kangaroo is found in abundance in the wilds of Australia and is not on endangered list.  Cachar forest department in the meantime got all the birds and animals examined by the veterinary wing and without losing any time transported them to Guwahati Zoo where they are reported to be doing well and getting acclimatised.  A question which impinges the mind of people is, how can these species caged in a truck travel all the way most probably from Mynamar border, pass through check gates and the most important gate at Vereingte of Mizoram, where ILP is enforced? Such passage for illegal trafficking only makes a mockery of inner line permit for which all other north east states are clamouring.

The role of truck driver and handyman, Narsimha Reddy from Telengana and Navanath from Maharashtra, is quite intriguing. Are they part of the international racket in wild life trafficking?


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