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    Jonai Division Ranger arrested for allegedly demanding bribe

    He had allegedly demanded Rs 2 lakh from a furniture businessman

    Guwahati: A Ranger of the Jonai Range Division was arrested from the Dhemaji Silapathar road by the Assam ACB Team on Thursday for allegedly being involved in demanding and accepting bribe.

    Police sources said that he was arrested on charges of demanding and accepting bribe of an amount of Rs. 2,00,000 from a person named Sandeep Das of Jonai, Dhemaji.

    The complainant Sandeep Das, is a proprietor of one wood Furniture Industry in Jonai town, and sells furniture items at his Show Room in Jonai town. He sometimes brings timbers from Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh for making furniture items. The Dhemaji Forest Division officials had detained his truck bearing registration AS-07-C-2996 sometimes back along with the timbers and pulled the vehicle to the Dhemaji DFO office but till date neither copy of seizure list has been issued.

    Again, recently, while he was transporting timbers purchased from Pashighat to Silapathar in a rental truck, with valid documents, Makhan Islam, a Ranger of forest department at Jonai, detained the truck and brought the same to Jonai Range Office and released the truck without observing any formalities, but did not release the timbers belonging to the complainant.

    When the complainant approached Makhan Islam to get back his truck which was detained on previous occasion along with the legal timber, Islam  demanded bribe of Rs. 2 lakh and also threatened the complainant  to  confiscate his  truck and warned him of arrest,  if he failed to do so.

    In this regard, the complainant also met Safiqur Rahman, DFO Dhemaji District and informed him the whole matter, but  the said DFO did not address the issue and sent  him back and asked him to contact  Ranger  Makhan Islam to settle the matter.

    As per direction of the Safiqur Rahman, DFO, Dhemaji, the complainant approached  Ranger  Makhan Islam again to settle the matter but the said Ranger once again demanded  money amounting  Rs 2 lakhs for him and for DFO, Dhemaji.

    At last, due to nationwide lockdown in the state from and under threat of arrest, the complainant was compelled to pay an amount of Rs 1.65 lakh to the Ranger. A part of above amount was paid through Pradip Das, a Forester  of Jonai. With passage of time, some well wishers advised the complainant to approach the Anti-Corruption Office, to lodge a written complaint.

    Ranger again asked the complainant to deliver additional bribe money amounting to Rs 1 lakh for  Safiqur Rahman DFO, Dhemaji. As the complainant was not willing to pay any more bribe amount and lockdown had been lifted, he came to Guwahati to the Directorate of Vigilance & Anti- Corruption, and lodged a written complaint and after verification of 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 of ACB investigators, led by SP Sumeet Sharma, immediately left for Dhemaji.

    Today, after further negotiation, the remaining bribe amount of Rs. 55,000/- was to be handed over as demanded and the ACB team laid a trap. While the complainant contacted the accused in the morning the accused called him to come to Lakhimpur to deliver the amount but later changed the location to Swagata Dhaba, Dhemaji.

    Thereafter, once again on contacting the accused, the accused changed the venue and asked him to come to Silapathar and meet him on the highway. Accordingly the trap team followed the complainant at the location called for.

    At about 2.30 PM, at Kanibeel (under Silapather P.S.) on the NH-15 to Silapathar, the accused was spotted waiting and the complainant, reached the spot. The complainant handed over the bribe money as sought for by the accused and immediately he was caught red handed by the ACB Team. The team recovered the bribe money from below the seat of a Maruti Vitara Brezza car of the accused ranger, on being shown by him.

    The ranger Makhan Islam has been arrested in connection with the case and the role of the DFO Dhemaji , Safiqur Rehman, is being investigated in the crime and he is being summoned for examination.

    The truck of complainant has been found standing in the compound of office of DFO Dhemaji and seized.  The Forester Pradip Das of range forest office, Dhemaji is also being summoned for questioning. The office and residential premises of DFO and the Ranger are being searched in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Guwahati and Jonai, by ACB teams with assistance of local police.  All formalities of search are being observed.

    The arrested person 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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