Tirupati: In an interesting but alarming trend, increasing number of accused caught in red sanders smuggling turn out to be students of professional courses from Tamil Nadu. There has been a surge recently in cases of red sanders smuggling from Rayalaseema and Nellore to overseas through Tamil Nadu. 

Many of those who were caught in these cases are students belonging to Chennai, Vellore, Triuvannamalai, Salem districts of Tamil Nadu. Law enforcement officials say lure of easy money is the main draw for these youngsters.

A couple of days ago, Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) personnel nabbed a second year student of ophthalmic paramedical diploma, in Tiruvannamalai University, while transporting red sanders at Mangalam under Tirupati rural mandal. 

The student, Ajith Kumar, is said to have been engaging in the illegal activity for a few months before he was busted. Confessing to his crime to police, Ajith Kumar told them that he chose the activity as it fetches them money easily. Police seized nine red sanders logs and a mini truck from his possession. 

Though this is not first time students of professional courses getting caught while transporting red sanders to ports in Tamil Nadu, police officials say their number is increasing.  According to RSASTF sources, more than 60 cases of smuggling involving students were registered in Tirupati RSASTF  police station. The accused were caught in Chittoor and Kadapa districts.

Police sources note that majority of those booked were engineering students and had attempted police and army selections. Key smugglers based in Tamil Nadu are reportedly luring these youngsters from areas where colleges and universities are located into red sanders smuggling by liberally giving money as advance and then binding them to do indulge in illegal activities. 

According to police sources, the smugglers would not reveal the illegal nature of the activity to the students while advancing money to them. They tell the students that it was just a ‘cut wood’ that needed to be transported and they had had spoken to local forest and police personnel and they need not bother about the officials and cases.

A senior official of RSASTF told The Hans India that they had been witnessing a steep rise in cases involving Tamil Nadu students of professional courses in the past two years. “Many of the accused had confessed during our probe that they had come here for easy money through transport of red sanders logs. They did not realise the illegal nature of their activity nor its consequences,” he added.