A total of 133 red sanders smugglers were arrested by forest officials at Kotala and Chandragiri railway stations near here in the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.
According to Tirupati wildlife circle DFO T Chakrapani, acting on credible information that smugglers in large numbers had boarded the Katpadi- Tirupati passenger train to enter the forest after landing at Kotala and Chandragiri railway stations, the officials deployed about 50 forest personnel at both the stations.
As anticipated when the train reached Kotala railway station around 11:30 pm, a large number of smugglers got off the train equipped with axes needed for felling red sanders trees.
They were also carrying rice, curries, chapatis and other food stuff required for spending a few days in the forest.
After tracing the smugglers who were proceeding towards the forest, forest personnel tried to detain them along with the support of the villagers.
However, the smugglers retaliated and hurled stones and vegetables, brought by them, against the forest staff and villagers. Though, the forest staff detected about 100 smugglers proceeding towards the forest, they could only manage to arrest 38 persons while the remaining fled.
Later the train reached Chandragiri station, the staff observed about 200 smugglers making a beeline towards the forest.