20 dead in encounter with alleged red sanders smugglers in Chittoor forests, Andhra Pradesh

Police claim two among those killed were international smugglers

Hyderabad: Twenty red sander smugglers were shot dead by task forces around 5:00 am on Tuesday morning in the Seschalam forests near Tirupati in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh.

Police sources said the smugglers, armed with sickles and axes, hurled stones at cops to provoke the crackdown. Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) sleuths then opened fire on the men.

Majority of those killed were from Tamil Nadu. According to sources, 2 among those killed were international red-sandalwood smugglers.

Speaking from the encounter site over phone, RSASTF DIG M Kantha Rao confirmed the deaths of the 20 men -- 11 were killed at Srinivasa Mangapuram and nine at Srivarimettu.

“I am at the encounter site and the hunt is still on for more members of the absconding red sanders,” he said.

Director General of Police J V Ramudu also apprised Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu about the encounter. He met him personally on Tuesday.

Andhra Pradesh Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) R P Thakur said, “We had received information that a large number of smugglers were on the prowl in the forest. Teams of Red Sanders Task Force laid ambush at two places. The Task Force consisted of forest officials and armed reserve policemen too. When our teams asked them to surrender, the smugglers retaliated by hurling stones and they were armed with sickles and axes. When the task force opened fire, 20 of them were killed but many escaped. The smugglers were carrying red-sandalwood logs.”

Bodies of the smugglers shot dead by the police: (Photo: Deccan Chronicle)

Police have launched a massive search to nab those who escaped.

Meanwhile, DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Tuesday said the killing of 20 people was "deeply saddening."

"It happened due to the failure of the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu governments to resolve the smuggling of red sanders. I appeal to both the states to end this," he said.

( Source : dc correspondent )
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