Three youth who were arrested along with the 133 red sanders woodcutters by the forest officials in three separate incidents in the district, attempted to escape by pretending to be engineering students.
But forest officials proved their claim to be wrong in a couple of hours time as the trio were not even able to write their names in English.
Going into details, police said that the three persons, who arrested along with the 133 smugglers at Kotala, Bhakarapet and Chandragiri railway stations in the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.
After arresting the smugglers, the forest staff brought them to the forest office in Tirupati and began noting down details of the detained persons.
During preliminary investigation, the three persons between the age groups of 18 to 20 years claimed that they were pursuing engineering and had come to Tirupati for darshan of Lord Venkateswara.
The youth further said that they too had got down from the train at Chandragiri as those smugglers had also taken away their bags.
The three youth identified as Satish Kumar, Murugan and Mariappa said that they were pursuing engineering at a college in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu.
“We came to Tirupati to seek Lord’s blessings as we have an interview on October 1,” they informed the forest officials.
They further said that, “when their bags were being taken away by a smuggler, they wanted to follow him, so they got down from the train and were arrested by the forest personnel,” the trio chorused.
Believing their story, forest officials asked the so called students to give details about their college, course name and which job interview they were going to attend and also wanted them to give a mobile number of any of their college faculty members.
But, they failed in giving the information to any of the questions posed by the forest officials.
While, two of them managed to write down their names and some other words in English, the third person failed to write even a single word in English and knew only the Tamil language.
After further interrogation, the forest personnel came to the conclusion that among the three persons two were pursuing diploma and the other had not even completed his SSC.
The officials further concluded that all the three had come along with the poachers and they all belonged to the same gang of smugglers, Tirupati divisional forest officer T Chakrapani clarified.
“Initially, we believed their version and separated them from the remaining poachers as they were claiming to be engineering students and we did not want to ruin their careers.
But, after enquiry, we began to doubt their story and while interrogating the remaining poachers, we came to know that the trio too had come to fell red sanders trees and earn easy money.