Three red sanders smugglers who were caught by the police were on Wednesday sentenced to 11 years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 6 lakh each by the Tirupati Principal Session Court. This is reportedly the first time that the court has awarded such a harsh punishment to smugglers. The smugglers, hailing from Tamil Nadu, were accused of trespassing and stealing government property.
They were caught by the Tirupati police on August 10, 2016. The accused have been identified as G Ponnuswami, G Tirumalai and C Kumar. While G Ponnuswami and G Tirumalai belonged to Tiruvannamalai district, Kumar hails from Dharmapuri district, police said.
Addressing the media, Superintendent of Police (AP Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force) Ravi Shankar said that the accused had ventured into the Karakambadi reserve forest beat of Seshachalam hills near Tirupati on August 10, 2016, and axed the trees.
According to The New Indian Express, the trio was escaping in a vehicle with the chopped logs weighing 1,900 kg. However, duty inspector Srinivas and his team patrolling the area chased and caught them. The logs were worth Rs 3 crore reportedly.
After the arrest, the three were produced in the Tirupati court. The then Task Force Circle Inspector, Madhu Babu, took up investigation and filed chargesheets under various sections dealing with trespassing into reserve forests, smuggling of red sanders and illegal transportation of the stolen property, The Hindu reported.
‚ÄúThe judgement will serve as a deterrent to those engaged in red sanders smuggling. We are also speeding up the trial in other pending cases,‚ÄĚ the SP was quoted as saying to TNIE.
Meanwhile, the Chittoor rural police on Wednesday nabbed two red sanders smugglers, identified as K Kandaswamy and L Andy, from Villipuram district of Tamil Nadu.
Police seized 22 ‚ÄėA Grade‚Äô variety logs worth about ‚āĻ30 lakh and two SUVs used for the transportation at Murakambattu from the outskirts of Chittoor town.