Andhra Pradesh

Sleuths, smugglers engage again at ‘encounter’ spot

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The area in the Seshachalam forests where policemen shot dead 20 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu back in April has become a major hotspot with red sanders smugglers’ minions engaging the Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) personnel no less than five times there in the past 20 days.

The most recent incident occurred on Sunday night during regular combing operations. RSASTF personnel reportedly came face to face with 70-80 smuggling operatives at Erragutta, a few yards away from the Cheekateegalakona area where the April ‘encounter’ took place.

The operatives abandoned the logs they had cut down and began pelting stones at the combing party, who fired three rounds in the air in defence.

The operatives then fled the spot, leaving behind 60 logs weighing two tonnes, which are worth an estimated Rs.2 crore in the smuggling market.

RSASTF DSP Sridhar said the location is one of the important exit points from the forests, and hence witnesses heightened smuggling activity. “We have set up static and mobile base camps at identified entry and exit points in the forest. This will be supported with intensified patrolling and regular combing operations,” he added.

Highlighting another development, Mr. Sridhar said smuggling operatives have began marking logs with symbols.

Meanwhile, the Tirupati Urban police have nabbed eight persons in connection with the transportation of red sanders logs to Tamil Nadu. During a routine inspection near the Mallavaram area in Srikalahasthi mandal, Renigunta police arrested three persons – Srinu, Hari and Bhaskar – for possession of red sanders logs, which they were transporting in their vehicle.

Further investigation resulted in the arrest of five others from the Thumburutheertham and Maamandur area. Nine logs, worth an estimated of Rs.16 lakh, and two four wheelers were seized.



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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 4:57:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/sleuths-smugglers-engage-again-at-encounter-spot/article7626886.ece

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