KOCHI: In a major twist to the elephant poaching case, the State Government has decided to transfer the Forest Department official who is in charge of the investigation. Speaking to ‘Express’, Akhil V Balakrishnan, who is in charge of the Thundathil Range under the Malayattoor Division, said he was transferred to the Peerumedu Range (Social Forestry), and that the officer currently in charge of the Kanthallur Range would take charge of the Thundathil Range.
The Forest Department has so far arrested 49 persons in connection with the case, and seized a significant quantity of ivory artifacts. During the investigation, carcasses of 18 elephants were recovered from various parts of the forest, mainly areas under the Malayattoor Division.
When asked how the transfer at such a crucial time would affect the progress of the case, Akhil Balakrishnan refused to comment.
Sources in the Department said the transfer would delay submission of the chargesheet. Also, the original chargesheet might be altered as the new investigation officer, who will be appearing before the court henceforth, is likely to incorporate his views in it.
Meanwhile, a senior officer said the transfer was effected as the Department wanted an experienced officer to prepare the chargesheet. According to him, the transfer will not affect progress of the investigation as the court can summon all the investigation officers involved in the case as the trail progresses.
With the Kerala Government ordering CBI investigation into the case, the chargesheet to be submitted by the investigation officials will be the primary document that will be available to the CBI sleuths in the preliminary stage, if the central agency takes over the case.
Recently, Forest Department officials brought ivory artifacts weighing around 480 kg to the State from New Delhi, where they were seized in connection with the elephant poaching case. Later, the officials sought to refer the case to the CBI after names of some bigwigs propped up in connection with it.
‘TRANSFERRED TO PEERMADE RANGE’
Speaking to ‘Express’, Akhil V Balakrishnan, who is in charge of the Thundathil Range under the Malayattoor Division, said he was transferred to the Peerumedu Range (Social Forestry), and that the officer currently in charge of the Kanthallur Range would take charge of the Thundathil Range.