Assam’s rhino horn verification process starts at Golaghat: Panel

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Guwahati, Aug 10 (IANS) The Assam government will formally start the verification of rhino horns, stored in various treasuries of Assam since 1980, from Thursday.

Assam government instituted a committee recently to verify the genuineness of the rhino horns, which were recovered in last three decades since 1980 and stored in different treasuries of the state.

The verification includes checking genuineness besides updating the complete inventory of rhino horns in the custody of Assam government.

“The first treasury to be opened on Thursday is Golaghat, which has the highest number of rhino horns stored in government custody. Almost all these rhino horns are of Kaziranga National Park. The process will start at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday),” said the members of Rhino Horn Verification Committee on Wednesday.

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The 12-member committee headed by former forest officer and former Assam State Information Commissioner, Mohan Chandra Malakar, has four wildlife experts, two representatives from media, one RTI activist, one forensic scientist and four high officials of the state Forest department.

“The trunks containing the Rhino Horns will be carried in batches from the treasury to the Golaghat circuit house under heavy security. Special security arrangements have been made for this by the district authorities,” said a statement issued by the Committee.

The trunks will be opened only in front of those Forest officials, who had actually signed and sealed the trunks at the time of depositing, to check the genuineness of the trunk. This is noteworthy that every trunk, containing rhino horns, was sealed in presence of four to five forest officials.

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“Efforts will be made to open any trunk in presence of maximum possible signatories who would have to authenticate that the trunk was genuine and the seal on the trunk was intact. The strict protocol has been formulated to fix responsibility in case of any unwarranted development,” it said, adding that only after that authentication, the trunk will be opened and horns will be examined physically.

In case of any suspicion pointed out by the members, the particular horn would be referred to the experts of the State Forensic Laboratory, the statement said, adding that the forensic experts have also set up a field lab at the Golaghat circuit house for the purpose.

The committee will visit every treasury of Assam where the horns are stored and is expected to file the report within 60 days. The rhino horns are scattered in 12 treasuries of Assam, maximum being in Golaghat followed by Nagaon, Guwahati and Tezpur.

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