Sinlung /
19 June 2015

2 Elephants in an Assam Court in Cross-Border Custody Battle

2 Elephants in an Assam Court in Cross-Border Custody Battle

Hailakandi, Assam:  An elephant and her calf spent a morning in a court in Assam this week, where a judge was asked to decide on their custody.

The judge had to make a short field trip to the court's lawns to inspect the jumbo duo in Assam's remote Hailakandi district which borders Bangladesh.

They were found on the Indian side of the border by the police on Monday. A local resident claims to be their owner - he says the female elephant was stolen from him eight years ago.

But a Bangladeshi man has made a rival claim. "They went missing a few days ago. I looked everywhere and then went to local cops in Bangladesh. They spoke to the Border Security Force and told me my elephants were in Hailakandi. So I got them to arrange travel and here I am to stake claim," says Mojibul Islam.

For now, custody of the elephants has been granted to a local forest official. The case will be heard next week. "We will take care of them as long as we have to, and ensure they are well fed and looked after," said Gunin Saikia, Divisional Forest Officer of Hailakandi.

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