KOCHI: The huge cache of ivory artifacts seized by the Kerala Forest Department from a warehouse owned by a Delhi-based ivory trader was brought back to the State on Monday by flight.
The accused Surendra Ravat being taken to Malayattoor Forest Division office from CIAL on Monday. (Right) The Forest Department officials loading the ivory tusk consignments into a vehicle at the Cochin International Airport on Monday
After a formal inspection, the contraband, sealed in 39 boxes, was taken to the Malayattoor Forest Division office by a special vehicle from the airport.
According to Forest Department officials, along with the ivory artifacts weighing around 480 kg, accused Surendra Ravat was also brought on Monday by a SpiceJet flight. The contraband will be produced before the First Class Judicial Magistrate Court, Kothamangalam, on Tuesday after preparing a detailed inventory.
Speaking to reporters, Chief Forest Conservator Amit Malik, who led the special investigation team, said that around 400 kg of the seized ivory artifacts was suspected to have been sourced from Kerala, and the rest from North Indian states. “Now, the Department will conduct investigation into the other aspects of the case also,” he said.When ‘Express’ asked whether customers who purchased the artifacts would be booked, the officials said, “the Department will seek legal opinion to move forward with the case, as there is ambiguity over booking customers, most of whom purchased the items outside the State. However, separate cases will be registered against the customers as the Forest Department is responsible for the whole investigation.”
The ivory artifacts were seized by a team led by Chief Forest Conservator Amit Malik, following the arrest of ivory dealer Eagle Rajan and his client Umesh Agarwal on Saturday. The huge cache of elephant tusks was concealed in a warehouse in a slum colony at Vikas Nagar in New Delhi.