Jammu and Kashmir Police have busted an international network of sapphire smugglers in Kishtwar district of the Jammu region with the arrest of three Sri Lankan nationals and their local accomplice.

Senior Superintendent of Police Kishtwar Bhim Sen Tuti told The Hindu that the network was broken after the police acted on a tip-off that three Sri Lankan nationals had come to the area to smuggle out the world-famous sapphire extracted there.

“High quality blue sapphire worth lakhs of rupees was recovered from their possession. They had brought it from Sonchan mines at Paddar and were trying to smuggle it out of the area in a car,” Mr. Tuti said.

The car was also seized. They had changed their clothes at many places to dodge the police.

The car, he said, was intercepted at Hanjala. The Sri Lankans were identified as Mohammed Ikram, son of Abu Hassan; Mohammed Shah Bin Qasim Bin Hattar, son of Zaabur Bin Sultan Izakore; and Akbar Qasim, son of Azhar Al Zehrat, all residents of Berola in Kalutara district. The accomplice was identified as Ramesh Kumar, son of Dewan Chand Thakur of Sounder Dachan, Kishtwar.

Police said Ramesh provided SIM cards, dresses and vehicles for the smugglers. Cell phones with local, STD and international call facilities were seized from him and the other accused. One of his accomplices managed to flee.