Over 100 red sander smugglers arrested in Andhra Pradesh

Hyderabad, Dec 16 : Andhra Pradesh Police Monday arrested more than 100 red sander smugglers here allegedly involved in the killing of two forest officials in Chittoor district's Seshachalam forests Sunday.

The suspects were arrested from railway stations in Chittoor and Kadapa districts while they were trying to flee to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, an officer said.

The arrested people would be questioned about their role in Sunday's attack which killed two officials and injured three others.

The arrests were made since Sunday night during the checking carried out by three special Task Force teams in the two districts.

Most of the smugglers were arrested from Railway Kuduru and Mamaduru railway stations in Kadapa district when they were trying to board trains to Chennai.

The police officer said a massive manhunt was launched Sunday night to arrest the smugglers who escaped from the forests after the attack.

More than 200 smugglers allegedly attacked a team of forest officials Sunday morning in Seshachalam forests near the temple town of Tirupati. Two officials were stoned to death in the gruesome attack. The injured were shifted to SVIMS Hospital in Tirupati.

The attack, which indicates growing audacity of red sander cutters in the region, shocked the forest department. The personnel are now demanding the government to provide them arms for use in self-defence.

According to officials over 3,000 smugglers were arrested and 2,025 metric tonnes of red sander was seized this year. Most of the arrests were made in Chittoor district and surrounding districts, famous for red sander.

The rare wood, which fetches Rs.25 lakh per tonne in the international market, is mainly used in aphrodisiac drugs and for making musical instruments and furniture.

--IANS (Posted on 16-12-2013)

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