Tirupati: 17 red sanders smugglers try to sneak into forest; land in police net
- The Red Sander Anti-Smuggling Task Force seeks forest and police support to tackle the smuggling menace
- Smugglers adopt new techniques to continue red sanders smuggling in forest
Tirupati: In a major operation, the Red Sander Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) arrested 17 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu before they venture into the forest at Maravapalli under Mungilipattu forest beat on Tirupati-Chittoor highway in the wee hours of Thursday.
Acting on tip-off that the smugglers arriving to Mugilpattu area to go into Seshachalam forests for cutting red sanders trees, the Task Force mobilised all its personnel operating in various areas and kept a watch since last night leading to the nabbing of smugglers.
Speaking to media here, Task Force DSP Venkataiah said the smugglers in a clever move came in a Eicher truck laden with bags of vermicompost but giving space in the middle for smugglers sit, with a hole underneath through which the smugglers alighted from the vehicle to go into the forest, while the parked vehicle acting as curtain shielding for anyone noticing them from the roadside.
However, the Task For personnel lying in wait surrounded the smugglers much to their surprise and were able to nab 17 while 20 more managed to flee. Two Task Force personnel sustained leg fractures while chasing the escaping smugglers, he said, adding that combing was still on to trace the smugglers still at large. Food and bakery items stock sufficient for two weeks including rice, provisions, bread, vegetables,edible oil, beedi and ganja were recovered from the truck.
As the Task Force stepped up its vigil on the entry points to forest, the smugglers opting new techniques to enter into forest, for continuing the smuggling using the specially restructured trucks providing space for smugglers in the middle while filling it with bags of various item giving the much needed cover to them, he explained.
Further, the smugglers first enter into forest in a small batch of 2 or 3 so as to not to draw the attention of other for selecting the trees the images of which they will send through WhatsApp to the kingpins to ascertain its quality before going ahead with cutting the red sanders tree, he added.
"Despite our best efforts, the woodcutters from Tamil Nadu did not stop arriving here for smuggling red sanders which increased after the Sankranti,'' he said seeking the support of police and forest department for effective steps to deter the smugglers. He also appealed to people in the forest fringe villages to alert the Task Force if they find any outsider in their area.
The arrested 17 include 15 from Tiruvannamali and one each from Vellore and Tirupattur district. Most of them have previous record of involved in smuggling activity and have undergone imprisonment but resumed the illegal activity after coming out of the jail to make quick buck.
The DSP informed that he was sending a report to higher ups for an official meeting with the officials of Tamil Nadu police for a coordinated effort to stop the people from the neighboring state indulging in smuggling and arrest of kingpins whose names came out during the interrogation of the arrested.