Days after a controversial encounter that killed 20 alleged smugglers in Chittoor, red sandalwood smuggling activities are carrying on unabated in Andhra Pradesh.
The state police arrested 61 smugglers over the weekend from the neighbouring Nellore district. Superintendent of Police Gajarao Bhupal told HT over the phone that all the arrested smugglers and woodcutters are from the northern Tamil Nadu districts like Vellore and Villupuram.
Police suspect these men could be the same who had escaped from the Seshachalam forests after the Tuesday encounter.
While 18 were arrested on Saturday from Anantasagaram area, 43 were arrested on Sunday morning from Somasila. 12 others managed to escape on Saturday, police said.
“On Sunday morning, forest officials went in search of the smugglers but were attacked. On their information our teams went and arrested the men. They include woodcutters, guides and smugglers. They have not confessed but we are inferring that they could be the same gang that escaped from Seshachalam on Friday,” Bhupal said.
40 logs of sandalwood worth about Rs 2 crore and four vehicles were also seized.
“These activities continuing even after the encounter shows how determined these smugglers are,” a police official said.