TN smuggler shot dead in AP

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Red sanders smuggler Murugesan of Uppuru village in Villupuram district was shot dead when a team of police and forest personnel opened fire at his gang engaged in felling of trees in the deep Karive­paku­lakona along the foothills of the Seshachalam range near here late Saturday night.

His associate Bhagy­a­raj has been admitted wi­th bullet injuries in the ICU of the SVRR hospital here.

Chittoor SP Kanthi Rana Tata said the police and forest guards fired rubber bullets to defend themselves when the smugglers attacked them with knives and hurled stones. It was unfortunate that Muru­ges­an succumbed to injuries on way to the hospital.

Three armed police personnel and a forester were hospitalised with injuries, he told reporters at the Pulibonu base camp in the Chamla valley on Sunday. He claimed that the camp set up five months ago had helped contain the forest smugglers.

According to the SP, the police spotted the smugglers and their hired labourers felling red san­ders trees in deep woods. When asked to surrender, the gang attacked the police and forest gua­rds.

A combing party later found about 30 axes, giant hacksaw blades, packaged food and cooking utensils used by the smugglers. There were also several heaps of dressed red sander logs.

The SP said about 20 persons had been arrested and search was on to nab another ten members of the gang. He said the smuggling of red sanders could be tackled only if the police and forest officials in Tamil Nadu cooperated with the A.P. counterparts.

“It is also important that we get help from the customs and revenue intelligence officials as the red sanders were being smuggled out from Chennai, Tuticorin and Kochi ports to reach China, Japan or the gulf countries”, the SP said.

It may be recalled that a hired labourer was killed at point blank range on June 21 this year near the same place. “We get only the poor workers while the big sharks employing th­em remain out of our re­ach”, said a forest official.

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