Notorious red sanders smuggler Kollam Gangi Reddy was taken into custody by the Andhra Pradesh CID from Mauritius authorities after deportation formalities were completed on Saturday.
According to AP Police, Reddy, an international smuggler, is notorious for organising and operating the entire network of red sanders smuggling from cutting the trees in Seshachalam forests near Tirupati, Kadapa and Kurnool districts to transporting them to various ports across the country to smuggling them abroad for the past many years.
Once allegedly associated with Naxalites, Reddy is an accused in the 2003 landmine attack on the then chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu near Alipiri in Tirupati. Dozens of cases of smuggling of red sanders are registered against Gangi Reddy in Tirupati, Kadapa and Kurnool following seizures made by forest and police officials and arrest of many of his henchmen. Officials say he amassed close to Rs 400 crore by smuggling red sanders and selling them in the international market.
Hailing from Kadapa, the 58-year-old fled the country after the Telugu Desam Party came to power in May 2014. Based on the number of cases registered against him, a red corner notice was issued against him. This February, he was detained by Mauritius authorities while he was about to board a flight to Colombo. The AP CID applied for his extradition through the External Affairs Ministry.
“Kollam Gangi Reddy fled to Dubai and from there flew to various countries such as Ghana and Madagascar spending a few months in each country and continued to be elusive. On February 2 this year, he landed in Mauritius. While entering Mauritius he gave his place of residence as Dubai and proposed place of stay as Le Bambous Hotel, Mahebourg, Mauritius. However, he did not check in at the hotel and was not available to the Mauritius Police for verification till February 22, on our follow up. Based on the red corner notice, Mauritius Police took him into custody,’’ AP DGP J V Ramulu said.
After being flown to Hyderabad via New Delhi, Reddy was brought to the AP DGP office where he was briefly paraded before the media. “My time is not good, so this happened. I have not done any wrong and am not associated with any of the cases that police have registered against me. I am a mineral trader based in Dubai and had travelled to Mauritius on business when I was detained,’’ Reddy said before he was whisked away. He will be produced before a court in Praduttur in Kadapa in the murder case.
Officials said Gangi Reddy has been spending a lot of money in hiring legal luminaries of India and Mauritius to escape from the clutches of Mauritian and international law as described through various international conventions. Meanwhile, on March 2 his passport was revoked, as he has obtained it on fake identity. A detailed documentation of 14 cases was forwarded to Mauritian authorities to press for his extradition. The deportation order was passed on November 14.
Gangi Reddy’s career in crime started in 1987 when he was involved in rioting using country-made bombs and weapons in two villages in Kadapa district during polls to district cooperative banks. On June 7, 1992, political rivalry led to the murder of former district cooperative bank chairman Ambati Murali Mohan Reddy and Gangi Reddy was the main accused in the case. But by 1995, Gangi Reddy realised that there was more potential in red sanders smuggling than getting involved in local politics, and joined red sanders smuggling gangs that were already in operation then but at a very small level.
“Reddy is the mastermind in organising illicit felling, stocking and transportation of precious Red Sanders wood from forests in Tirupati and Rayalaseema region. He hires labourers and criminals from the forest fringe villages and also far off places in Tamil Nadu,’’ an official said.