Tinsukia: The forest ranger of Jonai range division, Makhan Islam, was caught red-handed while allegedly accepting bribe from a businessman by sleuths of the anti-corruption branch (ACB) on Thursday afternoon. He was arrested at highway 15 under Silapathar police station in Assam’s Dhemaji district.
The ACB has summoned the DFO of Dhemaji Safiqur Rahman and forester of Jonai Pradeep Das to investigate their role in the bribery case.
The Anti-Corruption Branch was acting on a complaint by Sandeep Das, owner of a furniture showroom at Jonai. He alleged that the ranger had illegally confiscated his timber threatened to arrest him if he did pay him Rs 2 lakh. ‘A team of ACB led by superintendent of police, Sumeet Sharma, laid a trap and arrested the accused red-handed while accepting bribe money,’ read a statement from the ACB.
The team claims to have recovered the bribe money of Rs 55,000 from below the seat of the accused rangers car.
Das used to bring timber logs from Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh for making furniture. “The Dhemaji forest division officials had detained his timber-loaded truck bearing registration number AS-07-C-2996 and took it to Dhemaji DFO office without giving a seizure list till date,” the press release said.
The press release stated, in Feb 2020, while the complainant was transporting timber logs purchased from Pashighat to Silapathar in a rental truck, with valid documents, the accused ranger detained the truck and took it to his range office, where he released the truck without observing any formalities, but did not release the timber logs belonging to the complainant.
“When the complainant approached forest ranger to get back his truck and timber logs, he demanded a bribe of Rs 2,00,000.”
The forest ranger allegedly threatened the complainant to confiscate his truck and arrest him if he failed to pay the demanded money.
The press release said, “On March 21, the complainant met DFO Dhemaji Rahman to seek his help but was asked to meet the accused and settle the matter.”
“As per direction of Rahman, the complainant met the accused to settle the matter. The accused once again demanded Rs 2 lakh for him and Rahman and having no choice, he was compelled to pay an amount of Rs 1,65,00 to the accused,” the press release said, adding: A part of above amount was paid through the forester Jonai Das.
The press release said, “On June 6, the ranger again asked the complainant to deliver additional bribe money amounting to Rs. 1,00,000 for the DFO of Dhemaji. As the complainant was not willing to pay and since the lockdown had been lifted, he came to Guwahati to the Directorate of Vigilance & Anti- Corruption and lodged a written complaint,” it added.
A case under section 7/7(a)/13 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was registered at ACB police station on Wednesday after verifying the complaint.
The release said, “The bribe amount was negotiated to Rs 55,000. On Thursday morning, the accused called the complainant to come to Lakhimpur to deliver the amount, later changed the location to Swagata Dhaba in Dhemaji and once again changed the venue and asked him to come to Silapathar and meet him on the highway at 2.00 pm.”
The team kept following the complainant and around 2.30 pm spotted the accused at Kanibeel on the NH-15.
“The complainant handed over the bribe money after which the team caught the accused red handed and recovered the bribe money,” the release added.
Talking to EastMojo, directorate of IGP, Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, Anurag Tankha, said, with passage of time some well-wishers advised the complainant to approach the ACB and lodge a written complaint.
Meanwhile, Tankha has urged people to report such instances to the directorate in a secretive manner so that the corrupt can be booked.
“Citizens can reach at 0361-2462294, 0361-2462295, 8468832675, 9854032882, 18003453767 (toll free) to share information and lodge complaints in this regard,” he said.
According to sources in ACB, the office and residential premises of DFO and the forest ranger are being searched in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Guwahati and Jonai by ACB teams.
“The arrested person shall be produced before the magistrate on Friday in Dhemaji for taking transit remand to bring him to Guwahati to produce him before Special Court in Guwahati.”