HYDERABAD/TIRUVANNAMALAI:The Andhra Pradesh police on Saturday nabbed 12 red sanders ‘smugglers’ during a combing operation in a Nellore district forest area even as it emerged that over 40 youth from Jawadhu Hills in Tiruvannamalai were still holed up in the Seshachalam forest area near Tirupati.
Commenting on the youth hiding in the Seshachalam forest area a police officer said, “The people hired by the redwood mafia prefer to risk their lives instead of returning empty-handed,” said a police officer in Tamil Nadu and added that informers told the police that several men are hiding deep inside the forest with the cut red sander logs weighing thousands of kilograms worth several crore rupees in the international market.
The police department, following the shootout, have been collecting intelligence about the missing persons from the hills. “So far, we have not received any complaint about missing persons form Jawadhu Hills. But, we will work with the police department to collect information about the missing persons,” Tiruvannamalai Collector A Gnanasekaran told Express. During the arrest in the Nellore distrct forest area, the alleged smugglers tried to resist the task force personnel before they were finally cornered.
Police sources said that since 2003, 12,300 cases of red sanders smuggling have been registered and 12,863.42 tonnes of red sanders seized. Further, 7,220 vehicles used for smuggling were seized and the number of smugglers arrested stands at 18,703. However, not a single person has been convicted so far.
Meanwhile, the AP government is keen on strengthening the task force. Importantly, they pointed out, the government is keen on using latest technology to track down the smugglers. So far, 16 CCTV cameras have been installed at various places across the Seshachalam forest area.