Assam seizes locomotive for ‘murdering’ elephants

Assam forest officials “seized” the engine of a goods train that had mowed down a mother elephant and her calf inside Lumding Reserve Forest through which the tracks pass, the first time such action has been taken by the authorities.

“The department shall not fail to take a tough stand against the Railways. The killing of elephants on tracks must stop forthwith,” Assam environment and forests minister Parimal Suklabaidya said.

Assam chief wildlife warden Mahendra Kumar Yadava said, “The killing of a female elephant and her calf by a goods train engine in Lumding RF on September 27 has been very vigorously pursued under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 against the railway authorities. The department instituted an inquiry under the act. Accordingly, a team of forest officials proceeded to Bamunimaidan Loco Shed on October 20 and seized the diesel loco engine (No. 12440). Earlier, the loco pilot and his assistant were suspended by the railways after an internal inquiry.”

Yadava added, “The Indian wild elephant (Elephas maximus) is a Schedule-I animal under the entry 12-B of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Therefore, a forest offence has been listed against railway officers and employees of the railway authority under Lumding division of NF Railway for the killing of the two wild elephants, which is an offence under Section 9 of the said act and punishable under Sec 51 of the act, for onward necessary action.”

Yadava said the railway authorities have been informed through written instructions to restrict the speed of trains in areas of wild elephant movement inside Lumding Reserve Forest. He added that several decisions have already been taken to run trains at 30 kmph through the elephant corridor in Lumding Elephant Reserve.

Northeast Frontier Railway chief PRO Subhanan Chanda said, “The Assam forest department wrote to us that it needs to inspect the engine, which was at Bamunimaidan railway yard (in Guwahati). After half an hour, the engine was released and we have put it back in service.”

An FIR has been lodged at Lumding Police Station against the people responsible for killing the two elephants.

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