KADAPA: Eleven red sanders woodcutters from Tamil Nadu managed to escape from the custody of forest department at Rajampet in Kadapa district in the wee hours of Saturday.
On credible information about the movement of woodcutters in Rollamadugu forest to cut red sanders trees, the forest staff conducted a combing operation two days ago and took 11 woodcutters into custody. On Friday, the woodcutters were brought to Rajampet for questioning.
As there is no special cell or room to keep them, the woodcutters were locked up in a room in the forest quarters. A group of forest staff was posted to guard the quarters.The woodcutters bent the iron rods of rear side window of the room in which they were locked up and escaped around 1 am while the forest staff were fast asleep.The staff found the woodcutters missing from the quarters on Saturday morning and informed the matter to higher-ups.
A massive hunt was launched by the joint teams of local police, forest staff and Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force in Rajampet forest area and surrounding places to nab the woodcutters. “A hunt for the woodcutters is on and we will nab them soon,” Rajampet Divisional Forest Officer Khader Basha said.
Meanwhile, some of the associates of the woodcutters from Tamil Nadu, were taken into custody by the forest officials of Sanipai in the district in connection with red sanders smuggling. The woodcutters are being questioned to know the details of the escapees, sources said.