It turned out to be a ‘Nightmarish November’ for the Tirupati Urban police, with offences related to red sanders smuggling outnumbering all other forms of crime.
Wood cutters from dozens to hundreds in numbers were arrested in several raids conducted by police in the Seshachalam hills which has become of late a safe hideout for the manual labourers procured from neighbouring Tamil Nadu for felling the trees. In all, the department has arrested 333 wood cutters and seized 449 red sanders logs weighing 10.5 tonnes, along with the seizure of 36 vehicles in November alone. Of the arrested, as many as 14 have been tagged as stage-I and stage-II smugglers.
The Seshachalam hills have seen a spurt in the smuggling activities in the recent months. Speculation is rife in the Police Department that the decision of the State government to auction the seized red sanders logs has fuelled the smuggling cases.
With far-eastern nations like Japan and China evincing interest in buying the precious wood, some middlemen are trying to strike deals with the foreign parties with the promise of supplying the wood at the prices much lesser than that prescribed by the government. Taking note of the trend, which is feared to have had a telling impact on the auction process, Superintendent of Police (Tirupati Urban) Gopinath Jatti has warned to crack the whip on such unscrupulous elements.
People coming across incidents of red sanders smuggling activity can alert the police by dialling 09701518111.