Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Police investigating into the seizure of banned red sanders wood close to the international border has found that it was being smuggled to China.
Two trucks transporting 12 tonnes of red sanders wood were seized close to the China border at Kaurik in Lahaul and Spiti district on Tuesday. These were brought in from Delhi.
Earlier, the police believed that it was sandalwood but later came to know that it was red sanders – a rare flora species that is found in the southern parts of the country, mainly Andhra Pradesh.
‘It’s a case of cross-border smuggling and it is believed to be en route to China. There might be some big gang behind the trade,’ Superintendent of Police S.R. Rana was quoted in the media.
The trucks, both bearing Himachal Pradesh number plates, were parked just three km short of the international border. The truck drivers – Vijay Kumar and Raju – were arrested.
Surprisingly, both the drivers had valid permits issued by the ITBP at the Sumdoh check post to move ahead to the border.
He said police is investigating how the drivers got the permit from the ITBP and who had hired the trucks to transport the wood.
‘The trucks were owned by someone in Delhi as per assertions by the drivers. One of them said he was paid Rs.3,00,000/ for transporting the logs to the border, the other was paid Rs.1,00,000,’ Inspector General (Law and Order) S.R. Mardi said.
He said one more person, Prem Singh was arrested from the neighbouring Kinnaur district Thursday. ‘The police believe that he was allegedly helping the smugglers take the consignment across the border.’
The red sanders wood is a prohibited item for export and listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list