Four persons have been arrested for allegedly smuggling red sandalwood worth Rs 1.4 crore, police said. A raid was undertaken by a Crime Branch team, which claimed to have recovered 133 cut logs weighing over 4.5 tonnes.
Red sandalwood, found in the southern parts of the country, is in high demand in east Asia for its use in making furniture, oil and acoustic instruments, and has been accorded the vulnerable status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Due to the status, the export of red sandalwood is banned in India. According to police, the four accused had smuggled the sandalwood from Karnataka, one of the two states where the tree grows. The accused — Krishan, Ravinder, Neeraj Sahgal and Nikhil Salvan — had allegedly cut the timber into 133 logs and packed them into a truck.
They would burn incense while approaching police posts to make sure the sandalwood scent was masked, said a police officer.
The Crime Branch team, led by inspector Jatan Singh, along with eight other police officers guided by ACP Pankaj Singh, also roped in a wildlife inspector to inspect the logs, and took samples of the same for confirmation, the officer said.
After it was confirmed by the wildlife inspector, police booked the accused under IPC sections pertaining to theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy, along with five sections of the Indian Forest Act.