Credit: EastMojo image

Tinsukia: Two timber-laden trucks, plying with the same registration number (AS 01 KC 9625), were seized by a joint team of Assam Police and state forest department in Assam’s Tinsukia district on Monday night.

The only difference in the number plates was that while one of them was written in English, the other one was in Hindi.

The seizure comes barely a week after a report released by EastMojo underlined the jungle “plunder” by timber mafia in Assam’s Tinsukia district and neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh. Confirming the development, additional superintendent of Tinsukia police, Asif Ahmed, told EastMojo: “Two trucks with the same registration number transporting timber were seized. It clearly points out use of forged registration number plate by one of the trucks.”

Forest officials with some of the recently seized logs that were to be smuggled through a river in Sadiya, Assam

Responding to a question, he said, “We are yet to receive a formal complaint from the forest department.”

When contacted, the Tinsukia forest range officer said, “Definitely, one of the two trucks is completely illegal as two trucks cannot have the same registration number. I am out of Tinsukia for some official work. I shall be able to brief you only once I am back.”

When questioned, the ranger said, “There is no one at the office of Tinsukia forest range.” He advised us to go all the way to Dibrugarh and meet the DFO, who is personally looking after the case. However, he refused to share DFO’s official number before disconnecting the line.

EastMojo had requested him to help with another officer’s number present in Tinsukia forest range, who can provide basic information related to seizure or the DFO’s official number.

A questionnaire sent to the ranger over WhatsApp failed to attract his response. EastMojo had asked: 1. The details of the seizure (approx quantity and value); 2. Are the seized goods found to be legal or illegal, Status of TP (transit permit); and 3. As confirmed by you, that both trucks were plying on same number plate, has forest department lodged an FIR with police?

Talking to EastMojo, officer-in-charge of Tinsukia police station Deepak Tamuly said, “Police seized one vehicle laden with timber, the other vehicle was seized by the forest department.”

“The driver informed that he had brought the timber from Chowkham in Arunachal Pradesh and showed the transit permit issued by forest department, Assam duty paid at Kakopathar range office. We have compared the engine and chasis number of the vehicle and found them to be as per the registration certificate,” said Tamuly, adding: “We have called forest department officials to come and examine the papers related to forest department.”

Tamuly said, “We shall write to the forest department to submit registration paper of the truck, in their custody, which is also having the same registration number. Once it is verified to be forged, we shall register case as per law.”

According to sources, the forest department was tipped off about the movement of four illegal timber-laden trucks. “The information was shared by the in-charge of divisional forest officer (DFO) of Doomdooma to Tinsukia range and police. However, by the time they intercepted the vehicles, two trucks manged to escape.” All attempts to speak to the in-charge of Doomdooma DFO turned futile.

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