In a swift operation, the Tirupati Urban police arrested, in less than 24 hours, 100 woodcutters, including the three accused of murdering two forest officials.

At a media conference here on Monday, Superintendent of Police (Tirupati Urban) S.V. Rajasekhar Babu presented Govinda Raju and Chevidan Kali of Kallavur and M. Ramaswamy of Killanur village, all from Tiruppathur taluk of Vellore district in Tamil Nadu.

The police slapped cases under sections 147, 148, 341, 302, 307, 332, 333, 120B and 149 of Indian Penal Code and 21B of AP Forest Act, accusing the trio of hatching a conspiracy to murder and dacoity.

According to the police, the three confessed to have killed the duo, before robbing them of their mobile phones and ornaments.

After the incident came to light, 14 teams were sent to the forest for flushing out the workers, while armed may lay in wait at the exit points, who finally nabbed the 100 woodcutters and three smugglers. The woodcutters, believed to be hailing from Tiruvannamalai area of Tamil Nadu, reportedly climbed down the hills from the northern side in search of an escape route, when they were apprehended and herded into trucks. The masked culprits were brought to the forest taskforce office on the Kapila Theertham compound.

“Twenty armed men will be at the forest department’s disposal with immediate effect for undertaking combing operation,” Mr. Rajasekhar Babu said.