Red sanders worth over ₹1 crore seized, duo held


Accused didn’t possess licences

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch has arrested two accused who were allegedly found to be in possession of red sanders worth over ₹1 crore without any valid licences.

According to Crime Branch officials, the action was taken after police inspector Manish Shridhankar with the Crime Branch Unit VII received a tip-off about the movements of the accused. Working on the information, a Unit VII team, in collaboration with the Forest Department, visited Mankhurd and intercepted a Mahindra tempo on Mankhurd-Ghatkopar Link Road.

“We searched the tempo and found 53 blocks of red sanders wrapped in white-and-brown jute sacks, after which we arrested the two occupants of the tempo. The seized red sanders is worth ₹1.34 crore,” a Crime Branch officer said.

The officer said the accused, identified as Afsar Phoolwale (35) and Bhausaheb Bhosale (34), have been charged under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code along with the Indian Forest Act. Officials said Mr. Phoolwale, who is a resident of Pimpri-Chinchwad in Pune, and Mr. Bhosale, a resident of Panvel, had brought the red sanders from Pune.

“Red sanders is not grown in Pune and there has to be another location from where the consignment originated. We are working on finding out the source of the consignment as well as who the accused were delivering it to,” the officer said.

Red sanders, which is predominantly available in south India, is in huge demand in China, as most of the country's religious artefacts are made using it.

The massive demand and the stringent licensing conditions for its sale have led to illegal export rackets, where red sanders is hidden in larger consignments of other goods and smuggled via air cargo or by sea, often through a round-about route.

The accused have been remanded in police custody till December 7 and are being interrogated about the specifics of the racket, officers said.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 1:06:10 AM |

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