A personnel of the Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) in Andhra Pradesh was injured on Thursday after 20 woodcutters pelted stones and hurled axes when they were caught during a combing operation.
The police also reportedly fired two rounds in the air for self-defence.
The Hindu reported:
The incident occurred in the early hours of the day, when a team led by Sub-Inspector Bhaskar came across a contingent of woodcutters sneaking into the forest at Puttagadda on the ghat section, which is a part of the Chennai-Anantapuram national highway. In their bid to escape, the smugglers pelted stones and axes at the patrolling team, causing grievous injuries to a constable â€”Dilip Kumarâ€” who was struck in the elbow.
The report adds that the team was able to nab two of the woodcutters, while the rest of them escaped. A few logs were recovered.
Earlier this week, chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu held a review meeting on the smuggling issue and also announced that the auction notification for seized red sanders logs is scheduled to be issued on September 15, and called for an action plan for expanding the area under cultivation of red sanders.
Last month, the government also proposed setting up a depot in China to market red sanders.
Red sanders wood grows widely in the Seshachalam forest in Chittoor and adjoining Kadapa districts of AP.
Over the years, smuggling of the precious wood to foreign countries like China had been rampant.
Following a crackdown launched by the Chandrababu Naidu government, the smuggling activity had fallen significantly in the last two years.
The state currently holds 6,095 tonnes of red sanders seized primarily from the smugglers.
The Chief Minister mooted the idea of establishing a separate corporation for growing red sanders in the state and marketing it abroad through auctions.
"Use drones to protect the woods and geotag the trees. Categorise the seized wood and preserve it," Naidu earlier told the officials.