It was in 2011 that four ivories were seized from Mohanlal’s house at Thevara in Ernakulam by the Income Tax authorities.

Ecologist Faizi asks Wildlife Crime Control Bureau to intervene in Mohanlal ivory caseNaresh N Namthoopthiri via Wikimedia Commons
news Ivory case Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 17:56

Noted ecologist and Member of the Expert Group on Biodiversity & Development of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, S Faizi on Tuesday requested the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau to investigate South Indian superstar Mohanlal’s illegal possession of ivory.

It was in 2011 that four ivories were seized from Mohanlal’s house at Thevara in Ernakulam by the Income Tax authorities. The state Forest Department had then registered a case against him, but no action was taken. At the time, the actor had no license for its possession.

The senior environmentalist emailed his concerns in the said matter to Tilotama Varma who is the Additional Director of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) in New Delhi.

"The Wildlife Act was amended in 2006 to create the WCCB as a dedicated national agency to handle wildlife related crimes as the Parliament considered the escalating cases of wildlife crimes a matter of serious concern. However, it is disappointing that the WCCB has not taken up this case for investigation which is rightly within its mandate,” the email said.

Speaking to The News Minute, Faizi said that the WCCB chose to look the other way even when 23 elephants were massacred in Kerala within a period of six months.

“Adding to the list of wildlife crimes are the rapid number of bio-piracy cases.  Mohanlal’s case is not likely to be an isolated one. I have heard of (unconfirmed) anecdotes of decades old connection of a section of Trivandrum film world to ivory smuggling. The police officials may not have the required technical skills or intelligence information to effectively pursue the case which is most likely to have inter-state links,’ the email further elaborated.

Calling for an immediate intervention by the WCCB, Faizi terms it a very serious matter which the authorities are trying to downplay: “According to reports, the actor has had it in his possession since 1988. The Wildlife Act was enacted in 1972. Anyone in possession of ivory or similar wildlife objects had to register with the authorities and obtain licenses for the same. But in Mohanlal’s case, it was not done so.”

Faizi does not want to point fingers at anyone in particular, but believes that cases of bio-piracy are merely the tip of the iceberg. “There are many key players in the game, whom the authorities are not interested in zeroing in on. Take the case of the mass killing of the elephants. It came to light not because of efforts taken by the state Forest Department , but because one of the minor players -in an act of conscience- went and confessed about his role to them,” he says.

That the actor was allowed to retain the seized ivories at his home after executing a bond with the authorities concerned -as per reports- is itself illegal, reiterates Faizi.

“The ivory smuggled out from Kerala forests makes its way to Siliguri in West Bengal , and from there, onward to several East-Asian countries. Unless the WCCB makes a concerted attempt to deal with it, this will continue,” he avers.

A quick verification report was ordered against South Indian superstar Mohanlal by the Muvattupuzha Vigilance Court on Saturday for the illegal possession of ivory tusks.

The Vigilance Court also ordered a quick verification report against the then state Forests Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan as well as those who had reportedly sold the tusks to the actor.

As per the law, illegal possession of ivory is a punishable offence and mandates that any person found in possession of the same be arrested immediately.

The Court ordered the report to be submitted by 16 December 2016.

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