Two months after busting a racket of smuggling red sanders–having huge demand in international market- from Kadapa to other cities in the country via Hyderabad, the Forest Department officials are clueless about the kingpins behind it.
Except the three persons they had nabbed on November 10 last year, their probe didn’t inch forward in any direction.
All that they know is red sanders logs were being procured from the forests of Kadapa by smugglers and being sent to different destinations in the country using Hyderabad as hub.
Forest authorities intercepted two Maruti Swift cars and a Maxi pickup van near Tondupally of Maheswaram on city outskirts in the early hours of November 10 following a tip-off.
They found nearly 20 logs of red sanders in these vehicles.
On interrogation, the three accused driving the vehicles -G. Rajashekhara Reddy, Chandrababu Naidu and Obuleshu- told the officials that they were only transporting the logs at the behest of the smugglers and have no idea as to who the latter were and how they operated.
Based on their inputs, authorities raided a farmhouse in Shamshabad and found nearly 25 tonnes of red sanders hidden in a dump.
Workers present there fled the spot. How did the farmhouse owner allow the racketeers to use the place as a dump for red sanders?
Since how long the smuggling was going on? The smugglers were so audacious to use a farmhouse in the State capital as a dump to hide the smuggled red sanders.
Were there any persons politically or officially connected, supporting the smugglers? Hoping to find answers, officials knocked on the doors of the farmhouse owner E.V.V. Sreevalli, a housewife.
She maintained that the farmhouse was leased out a year ago to a person called Sadashiva Raju about whom they know little.
Probe indicated that Sadashiva Raju has connection with red sanders smugglers from Kadapa and other places. Soon after the raid on the farmhouse, he had disappeared.
The absconding Raju, authorities believe, holds the key to the racket of procuring red sanders from Kadapa and Chittoor districts and smuggling the logs to other cities in the country via Hyderabad.
The Crime Branch sleuths of Kadapa police took the arrested trio into their custody from Cherlapally Central Prison but couldn’t achieve any crucial clue about the absconding Raju.
To check the possibility of Raju fleeing the country, they alerted the Intelligence Department.