OTHERS

Sandalwood trees stolen

ALAPPUZHA JUNE 26. The sandalwood mafia seems to have restarted its operations in Alappuzha after a brief lull.

Recently, two sandalwood trees were found stolen from the West Shafi Juma, on the mosque cemetery premises near the Alappuzha beach. A third tree, which was cut down by anti-socials, was found abandoned at the cemetery. Three sandalwood trees were reported stolen from the Alappuzha port premises two weeks ago.

According to Salim Pulimootil, general secretary of the town unit of the `Jana Sakthi' who brought the theft before the attention of police, though the police have registered a case in connection with the case, investigation needs to be speeded up.

More than 15 sandalwood trees growing at various spots along the Alappuzha beach were stolen two years ago. The police had arrested two persons in connection with the theft and confiscated a Maruti car in which they were travelling. Electric swords used for cutting sandal trees were also recovered from them. In a statement here, Mr. Salim said the mafia might try to steal the more than 30 sandalwood trees in the beach area.

"At present there is no arrangement to protect the trees from thieves. The two policemen at the police aid post on the beach leave by 8 p.m.," he noted. Mr. Salim demanded night patrolling in the beach area where a large number of sandalwood trees grow.

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