The Andhra Pradesh police, in two different operations, has arrested 174 persons from Tamil Nadu on charges of smuggling redsanders.
According to sources, during the first operation, 16 were held at Kajupet in Cuddapah district. Based on information obtained form them, the remaining were arrested at a place called Lankamalla.
Following the information culled in the sustained interrogation of 15 smugglers from Tamil Nadu and a local smuggler on Wednesday, the task force along with forest staff launched an intensive combing operation in Vanipenta forest range under Proddatur forest division leading to the arrest of over 150 smugglers from various places in the forest and forest fringe areas.
Surprisingly, the searching teams stumbled upon the heaps of red sander logs which were kept in various places readily for transportation and also a dump in Rollabodu forest area of Sidhout forest range, leading to a huge catch of 307 red sanders logs in total in the day long operation.
It was learnt during interrogation that the smugglers had planned to move the red sanders logs since the police were busy with security arrangements for the election of MLCs from graduates’ and teachers’ constituencies in the Rayalaseema region.
It may be recalled that twenty woodcutters from Tamilnadu, found felling red sanders, were killed in an alleged encounter in the Seshachalam forest at the foot of the Tirumala hills in 2015.