CIB arrests two TIA officials for allegedly colluding with wildlife smugglers

Kathmandu, November 24

The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police has arrested two officials of the Tribhuvan International Airport for their alleged collusion with wildlife smugglers in giving customs clearance to chimpanzees trafficked to Nepal from Nigeria.

DIG Pushkar Karki said Chudamani Dahal, 31, of Bhadrapur, Jhapa, who was on duty at the TIA Customs Office when the endangered wild animals and birds were smuggled to Kathmandu via India, had assisted the smugglers in passing them without rigorous security screening.

Similarly, CIB has also arrested Direndra Bahadur Shah, non-gazetted first class officer of TIA-based Animal Quarantine Office for providing quarantine pass letter to the smugglers without checking the box in which the chimpanzees were hidden. Shah, 42, hails from Sanfebagar Municipality of Achham.

With this, the number of suspects in connection with the October 18 smuggling of the endangered animals and birds has reached eight. Earlier, six persons were arrested on a single day. CIB had initiated action against the eight suspects, including three Indians and a Pakistani national, under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

The others include Sanjeev Bhari, 40, of Kathmandu; Raj Kumar Tiwari, 42, of Bara; and Mohammad Usman, 34; Mohammad Faim, 35, and Mohammad Sherif Shahid, 35, of India; and Jawaid Aslam Khan, 55, of Pakistan. Two chimpanzees, eight monkeys, seven golden pheasants, two ring-neck pheasants, 38 pigeons and 65 parrots were seized from them.

Acting on a special tip-off, CIB had raided the house of Bhari in Bansbari, Kathmandu, leading to seizure of wild animals and birds. Though the cases related to wild animals and birds are usually handled by the concerned District Forest Office, the Kathmandu DFO transferred this case to the CIB as it was of organised nature, DIG Karki said.

“As we have found involvement of some international racketeers, we proceeded the investigation as per the Prevention of Organised Crime Act,” said SP Jeevan Shrestha.

As per the act, assets accumulated from organised crime can be confiscated. If a transnational crime is committed with the involvement of two or more members of the same gang, police may proceed action against them under organised crime. They may face up to a jail sentence of 20 years, along with confiscation of property, if convicted. The chimpanzees were brought to Nepal from the African country.