TIRUCHY: Residents of the remote Vairichettipalayam village, situated 72 km from the district headquarters, on the foothills of Kolli Hills were shell-shocked on hearing about the detention of a 22-year-old villager by the Andhra Pradesh police for allegedly smuggling red sanders wood in Seshachalam forest range. The family members of the accused told Express that they were unaware of his role in the red sanders racket and were under the impression that he was working for a textile firm at Tiruppur for the past few months.
One of the nine from the district detained by the Andhra Pradesh police on Wednesday was identified as Sathyavel (22), son of Nagarajan from Vairampatti village under Thuraiyur taluk in the district. On Thursday, when the local police alerted Nagarajan about his son’s arrest, the entire family broke down.
“We had no clue that he was in Andhra Pradesh forest, smuggling red sanders. No one in our family is into wood cutting. Poverty has forced his hands to dabble in such an unethical profession. He has been misguided,” said N Prakash, elder brother of Sathyavel.
The villagers recall Sathyavel as a soft spoken youth, who seldom quarrelled. “Their family is in a financial crisis. They call a thatched hut on a poromboke land their home. They do not even have patta for that. Sathyavel has an elder sister, who is yet to be married off. He landed in Tiruppur to work for a textile firm around six months ago,” a source told Express.
The family has appealed to the State government to provide legal assistance to Sathyavel, a Class VI dropout, as they claimed the youth was misled by anti-social elements. Apart from Sathyavel, seven people, including five from Omandur village in Manachanallur taluk and two from Thuriayur taluk, have been detained. Following the unprecedented arrest of eight villagers, a majority of the villagers Express spoke to in Omandur remained tight-lipped about the incident, but expressed fears that this would tarnish the entire village’s image.