The Customs officials at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), Sahar, arrested a businessman, after he was found carrying a pair of elephant tusks. A case has been registered in this matter and will be transferred to wildlife officials for further investigations. Kushal Singhal (20) was returning from Ivory Coast via Kenyan airlines when a team of Customs officials, headed by its deputy commissioner Sameer Wankhede, diverted him for a detailed screening at 6 am yesterday.
“Singhal, a Mumbai-bound passenger from Ivory Coast, was diverted from the green channel. After screening his luggage, a pair of large-sized elephant tusks was recovered. We then sent the tusks to a lab to confirm their authenticity and the reports issued were positive. We have booked him under Section 77, 111 D read with Wildlife Protection Act (1972). We have recorded his statement and would be handing him over to wildlife officials, as the matter falls under their jurisdiction,” said a Customs official, requesting anonymity.
Singhal in his statement to the Customs has claimed innocence. “In his statement, he has said that he was unaware of the existing wildlife guidelines, which restrict import of ivory in India. He also said that the tusks were being sold right outside the Ivory Coast airport. Since they looked beautiful, he purchased them as a souvenir,” the official said. Customs Commissioner at the airport, PM Saleem, said, “We have booked one such case. The goods have been confiscated and the wildlife authorities will be informed about it.”