Guwahati/Hailakandi, June 17: An elephant and her calf were 'produced' in a local court on Tuesday following an ownership row.
The missing elephants belong to neighbouring Bangladesh. Makhlisur Rahman of Kulaura in Maulvibazar district of Bangladesh had lodged a complaint with the police in January saying his elephants had gone missing since the 22nd of that month.
Rahman informed his relatives at Patharkandi in Assam about the incident as he suspected that the animals were stolen and taken to Tripura, which shares a border with Kulaura. The relatives took up the case with state's Congress leader Monilal Goala and he contacted a former Assam minister Gautam Roy.
The pachyderms were eventually found in Hailakandi in Assam on Monday and they were handed over to the forest department. Rahaman also arrived after being informed but it wasn't the end of the story. A local person named Majurul Islam Barabhuian emerged to claim ownership of the animals and finding no other option, the authorities had to take the two elephants to the local chief judicial magistrate.
The magistrate, Joydev Koch, came out of his chamber to see the animals as they couldn't get inside and asked the local police to investigate the matter and submit a report.
Media reports said the two animals caressed Rahaman with their trunks which suggested that they might be known to each other for a long time. But it couldn't be considered a legal proof about the animals' ownership.
The border forces were embarrassed by the elephants' entry in the Indian side
Though Rahaman has all the relevant documents about the animals' ownership, but the matter isn't very easy to settle since the animals belong to Bangladesh. There might be a need for diplomatic exercise to ensure their return to Bangladesh. The next hearing is on June 23. The diplomatic procedures will take effect after that.
Meanwhile, the local police was worried over feeding the two elephants. They have been gathering food for the two animals and don't yet know for how long they would have to do it.