GUWAHATI, Aug 12 - The forest department has written to the State government seeking powers to the forest officers to call for CDRs (call detail records) and intercept calls.These powers would add teeth to the capacity of officers of the department investigating the multi-million-dollar wildlife trade which is also linked to terror funding, a senior forest official told The Assam Tribune.
“Now, all the investigations are based on human intelligence. There is absolutely no use of technology and so the scope is very limited. When the investigating forest officers need to analyse a CDR, they have to write to the police. The process is long-drawn and by the time the CDR comes, its relevance is lost,” the official said.
In some states like Karnataka and Uttarakhand, forest officers are empowered to call for call records and intercept calls.
The forest department contends that nearly 90 per cent of the police cases are cracked based on telephone records and interception. “It is a major tool for investigation and tracking criminal networks. We are hopeful that if these powers are given to us, the forest staff can crack 90 per cent of the wildlife crime cases,” the official insisted.
As of now, the official said, most investigations fail to lead to unearthing of the bigger network. The forest staff are not able to track the links due to technological shortcomings.
The State also has a very poor conviction rate of poachers. In 2013, 71 poachers were caught in and around Kaziranga. The following year, 47 were arrested and in 2015, the number of arrests was 88. Last year, 59 poachers were arrested. But only nine have been convicted so far.