He was leading a squad of police and revenue officials to check smuggling of sand

District Collector K.V. Mohankumar escaped an attack by sand-miners while leading a squad of police and Revenue officials to check the smuggling of sand at Feroke on the outskirts of the city early on Saturday.

The Collector had to encounter two hostile gangs in separate incidents in and around Feroke within a gap of one hour.

In the first incident around 3.30 a.m., the smugglers in a tipper lorry trapped the hired Toyota Innova in which he was travelling, in a narrow lane at Kanndikulam.

Mr. Mohankumar, who was accompanied by his gunman and other officials, had earlier flagged down the sand-laden tipper lorry for checking at the old bridge at Feroke. “But the lorry sped away leaving us with no option but to chase the vehicle. A motorcycle that was carrying out surveillance in the area tried to block us. But our vehicle overtook the two-wheeler. But we did not know that they were leading us into a trap. Suddenly the lorry stopped on entering a lane and tilted the dumping bed of the truck. The smuggled sand formed a heap in front of us,” he said.

The second incident took place on the Kozhikode- Cheruvannur road when a sand-carrying tipper-lorry tried to hit the Collector’s car at 4.30 a.m. “This time we were blocked by a motorbike. So we could not chase the lorry.The number plate had faded. The gang could also have been armed,” the Collector said.

Two other vehicles carrying officials and policemen accompanied him initially but later divided into different routes. The Collector had earlier sought police protection for the squad, said City Commissioner of Police G. Sparjankumar.

The Nallalam police by noon took into custody one of the lorries that was abandoned at Mankavu. A team of police officers led by K.R. Premachandran , Assistant Commissioner of Police ( South), has launched an investigation.

The bike owners were identified. However, the owner of the seized lorry was yet to be identified since the vehicle had exchanged hands over a period of time, Mr. Premachandran said. Mr. Mohankumar said the raids had been carried out in the wake of complaints that the sand mafia in collusion with officials had been smuggling sand from river water frontages.

“So we decided to conduct surprise raids from 3 a.m. to 5.30 a.m. Simultaneous raids were also carried out at Koyilandy and Vadakara, ” he said.

The administration would take stringent steps to rein in the illegal sand-miners, he said.

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