3 red sander smugglers killed in police firing
Tirupati: 3 Red Sander Smugglers Killed in Police Firing, Three red sander smugglers were killed after police opened fire on them during a combing operation at Guddiyeddu Banda area of Syamalakona forest, under Chandragiri police limits, on Wednesday night.
- Police, Forest personnel launch combing in Syamalakona forest
- They open fire after being attacked with stones, axes and arrows
- Efforts are on to nab absconding notorious smuggler Gangi Reddy
Tirupati: Three red sander smugglers were killed after police opened fire on them during a combing operation at Guddiyeddu Banda area of Syamalakona forest, under Chandragiri police limits, on Wednesday night. Three police personnel were injured in attacks by the smugglers.
The incident came to light on Thursday morning when the police combed the forest for the remaining smugglers who managed to escape. Police found the bullet-ridden bodies lying in the area where a clash between police and smugglers had taken in the night before.
Tirupati Urban Police Superintendent of Police SV Rajasekhara Babu told the media that a contingent of 30-member armed police and Forest department personnel went on combing from the high-power TV tower area in the deep forest, 5 km from Tirumala, after receiving credible information on the movement of smugglers.
The combing party spotted smugglers between Kalyani dam and Tirumala forest. Even as the police tried to encircle and nab them, they were attacked. The offenders numbering about 100 regrouped, and rained stones on the police. They even attacked the police party with axes and also shot arrows, forcing the party to open fire to save their lives.
The party initially opened three rounds of fire in the air. But as the offenders did not disperse and continued to attack, they were fired upon. This forced the smugglers to escape into the forest under the cover of darkness, the SP said. The deceased are yet to be identified. Police suspect that some offenders are injured in the firing. The SP conducted inquest of the bodies in the presence of Tirupati Urban MRO.
Devotees close to the Lord’s temple were shaken by the police firing. It reminded them of the recent incident when two forest department officials were brutally murdered by red sander smugglers. The SP said the injured policemen were hospitalised. He pointed out that recently there was a spurt in red sander smuggling as police were busy with the general elections. After the polls, police resumed the drive against the smugglers. This resulted in seizure of a large quantity of logs along with vehicles and nabbing of smugglers who were from Tamil Nadu.
Affirming that the drive would continue till the smugglers were flushed out of the Seshachalam forest, he said the department would rope in TTD personnel to intensify the anti-red sander smuggling operations and also ensure security of Tirumala. He warned that the police would henceforth take a tough stand against those resorting to loot of red sanders.
He said red sander smuggling remained unabated with the price for the logs in the international market fetching Rs 5,000-8,000 a kg, luring many into the illegal trade to make a fast buck. The police action against the red sander smugglers has been intensified after TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu has been voted to power. It also comes in the wake of his letter to Governor E S L Narasimhan questioning why the police failed to act against an alleged notorious smuggler Gangi Reddy. Police are said to be chasing Reddy. They have taken several offenders into custody and are questioning them about his whereabouts. Reddy’s brother, Brahmananda Reddy, is a leader of YSR Congress Party. Gangi Reddy is suspected to have left the country. Meanwhile, the three killed smugglers were identified as residents of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. Local police gave this information to their TN counterparts. Tamil Nadu police reached Tirumala and secured details of the victims.