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2 Nagaland officials linked with poachers
Published on 8 Nov. 2009 1:02 AM IST
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The rhino horn racket trail has led the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau to two senior government officials in Nagaland. These officials were found to be the subscribers of two telephone numbers found on the cell phone of a dreaded poacher, Harmuj Ali, who died in an encounter with forest guards at Orang Rajiv Gandhi National Park in Assam on the night of October 17, The Telegraph reported Saturday. Sources in the bureau said the agency had tracked down four phone numbers found on Harmuj’s cell phone to Nagaland. “Two of these phone numbers were registered in the names of senior state government officials based in Dimapur, another was registered in the name of a private school based in Kohima and one belonged to an individual in Mokokchung,” a senior official of the bureau said. One of the two is a senior education department official and the other is a medical officer. Both are based in Dimapur, the bureau official said, declining to give further details. He said the Nagaland police had been contacted. The official said several phone calls had been exchanged between these numbers and that of Harmuj on the day the poacher and his associates killed a rhino at Orang. “There were also several missed calls on Harmuj’s cell phone from these numbers after he died in the encounter. The calls kept coming from these numbers till late in the morning the day after the encounter,” he added. The numbers were handed over to the Calcutta-based Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, which then contacted the cell phone companies for details of the call lists. However, the SIM card recovered from Harmuj’s mobile was indeed stolen from the employee of a Guwahati-based construction company. “The employee of the company had already registered a complaint with the police regarding the stolen SIM card,” a police official here said. The police had picked up the person from Hatigaon following information from the wildlife crime bureau but had allowed him to go after he said his SIM card had been stolen. The rangers of Orang have also managed to arrest two poachers involved in the killing of the rhino at the national park on October 17. Md Majibur Rahman, who was picked up from Dholaguri Pathar village in Sonitpur district, was present at the encounter site at the park. He managed to escape but his two associates, Harmuj and another poacher, died in the shootout with forest guards. His accomplice, Babar Ali of Basasimilu village under Dhekiajuli police station, provided logistical support to the group in carrying out the killing of the rhino, forest officials claimed. Harmuj had been arrested several times earlier on charges of killing rhinos both at Kaziranga and Orang.

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