In a daring encounter between the police and dreaded sandal wood smugglers , Twenty red sanders smugglers were killed in an alleged encounter with a joint team of special police and forest personnel in the Seshachalam forests of Chittoor district.
The incident took place at Etagunta and Vacchinodu Banda hamlets, deep in the forest in Chandragiri mandal. While nine smugglers died in the firing at Eetagunta, 11 were killed at Vacchinodu Banda. This is the biggest-ever police encounter involving smugglers of red sanders in Andhra Pradesh.
“Twenty red sander smugglers have died at two places. There was an exchange of fire with our task force personnel. They (smugglers) were carrying red sander logs and attacked the police and forest personnel with sickles and fire arms. They also attacked the personnel with stones,” said Additional DGP (Law and Order) R P Thakur.
Red sanders is a highly endangered plant species that thrives only in the forests of Seshachalam and in a few pockets in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The AP government has intensified its operations against smuggling of red sanders.
When the police-forest party came near the smugglers, the latter resorted to attack. “The teams fired in self-defence. Nine smugglers died at Eetagunta and 11 at Vacchinodu Banda. The search is on for the smugglers, who had escaped from the forest after the incident,” DIG Kanta Rao told mediapersons after visiting the sites of encounter.