Man held at Mumbai airport with 2 tusks

A Gujarat-based trader was detained at Mumbai airport for carrying elephant tusks in his baggage. The trader, 22-year-old Kushal Singhal, had arrived in Mumbai by an Ethiopian airline flight and was detained while he was on his way out of the airport.

He was later handed over to the Sahar police for further investigations.

On June 5, Singhal landed at the airport at 6am. He was on his way home after a visit to the Ivory Coast. Customs officials said Singhal was passing through the green channel when he was stopped for checks. Officials found two elephant tusks in his baggage. “He said he had bought the tusks from the Ivory Coast for his home and that he was unaware of the law,” said a senior Customs official,

According to officials, ivory is one of the highly prohibited items and cannot be carried or brought or taken to any other country. It is banned under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). The Wildlife Act of India, 1972 also prohibits the trade of ivory tusks. “Ivory tusks are classified as very sensitive and highly prohibited items. Other such items are a tiger’s body parts like claws, skin etc, or reptiles or shatoosh shawls,” a Customs official said. “Any trade in these items is punishable. Even if the person carrying these is innocent, it is legally impossible to let him/ her go without court permission.”

Customs officials said such cases are very rare and smuggling of animal parts thought air is not a common practice. “We have come across such a case after a 10-15 years,” another Customs official said. The passenger was intercepted by a Customs batch led by assistant commisioner Sameer Wankhede.

Sahar police inspector Balasaheb Jadhav said Singhal claims he was unaware of the rules on elephant tusks. The two tusks cost approximately Rs 2.75 lakh.