News Desk: A Forest Ranger of Jonai Range Division has been arrested on the Silapathar road after being caught red-handed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Assam led by Sri. Sumeet Sharma, Superintendent of Police. On June 18, at around 3 P.M., Mr. Makham Islam, a ranger was caught red-handed when he was taking an amount of ₹2,00,000 from complainant Sandeep Das of Jonai, Dhemaji, Assam.
Sandeep Das is an owner of a wood furniture industry in Jonai town. He sells furniture items at his showroom in Jonai town. Sandeep used to bring timbers from Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh for making furniture items. The Dhemaji Forest Division Officials detained his truck bearing Assam Registration number AS-07-C-2996 a few months back along with the timber the truck was transporting. The vehicle was pulled to the Dhemaji DFO Office but to date, the Copy of Seizure has not yet been issued.
Again on February 22, Sandeep Das was transporting purchased timber from Pashighat to Silapathar in a rental truck with all valid documents along with timber purchasing documents. Makhan Islam, the Ranger of Forest Department at Jonai detained the truck and brought it to the Jonai Forest Range Office. He released the truck without following any formality but did not release the timber belonging to Sandeep Das.
The agitated complainant Sandeep then approached Makhan Islam to get back his truck and also the recently seized legal timbers. The Forest Ranger, Makhan Islam demanded ₹ 2,00,000 from Sandeep Das and also threatened him to confiscate his truck and also scared him of arrest if he failed to give the bribe. Sandeep Das then decided to meet Safiqur Rahman, DFO of Dhemaji and informed him of the whole matter. The DFO gave no positive response to Sandeep Das’s plight and instead advised him to meet Mkhan Islam again to ‘settle the matter’. As per the advice of the DFO, Das approached Ranger Makhan Islam again. The Ranger once again demanded the money stating that the money is for him as well as for the Dhemaji DFO.
Due to the fear of being arrested, Sandeep Das was obliged to pay an amount of ₹ 1,65,000 to the Ranger. The payment was done through a Forester named Pradip Das of Jonai. On June 5, the Ranger again demanded Das to deliver an additional bribe of ₹ One Lakh for Dhemaji DFO Safiqur Rahman.
Sandeep Das was not willing to the stated amount and decided to take the matter to the bureaucrats. He came to and sought help from the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. He lodged a written complaint. After verification of the complaint, a case vide ACB PS case no. 06/2020 u/s 7/7(a)/13 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was registered on June 17. A team led by SP Sumeet Sharma immediately left for Dhemaji.
The ACB team laid a trap while Das contacted the accused Ranger on Thursday morning. The accused Ranger asked Sandeep Das to come to Lakhimpur but later changed the meeting location to Swagata Dhaba situated at Dhemaji. But the accused changed the venue again and asked Das to come to Silapathar and meet him on the highway.
At about 2;30 P.M. at Kanibeel on NH-15, Das handed over the bribe money to Makhan Islam. Islam was caught red-handed by the ACB team. The bribe money was recovered from below the seat of Maruti Vitara Brezza car belonging to Makhan Islam. The Ranger was then arrested and the involvement of Dhemaji DFO is being investigated.
The arrested personal will be produced before the magistrate in Dhemaji on Friday for taking transit remand to bring him to Guwahati, for production before Special Court, Guwahati.
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