August 14, 2015 8:20:07 pm
Two days after Bhavnagar forest division officers nabbed a diamond trader from Surat with 503 kg of sandalwood, Gir East forest division officers on Friday detained another diamond trader of Bhavnagar on Friday.
Jaysukh Patel was detained by Gir East officers on Friday afternoon in connection with alleged smuggling of sandalwood from Sarasiya beat of Dalkhaniya range in Gir East forest. His detention came hours after Kamlesh Shah, a resident of Amroli area of Surat was handed over to Gir East officers by Bhavnagar division late on Thursday evening. Shah has also been detained by Gir East division.
“We have detained Patel and Shah for questioning and to know as to whom they were supplying smuggled sandalwood. If we find material against them, we shall arrest them,” deputy conservator of forest (DCF) of Gir East, Anshuman Sharma said.
Officers say that Patel was link between those who cut sandalwood trees from Gir forest and those who buy the costly wood subsequently.
Meanwhile, the four men from Amreli district who are in custody of Gir East division have confessed that they have cut around a dozen sandalwood tress from Sarasiya.
“They (the four) are residents of villages near Gir forest or have worked in forest as labourers. Therefore, they know the forest inside out and were aware where sandalwood trees are. They say they used to cut trees manually by using saws,” Sharma further said.
Gir forest is the last natural home of endangered Asiatic lions in the world and forest enjoys highest level of protection. The Amreli quartet have been booked under Indian Forest Act, 1927 and The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. They have been booked for illegally entering sanctuary and destroying habitat of wild animals by cutting trees from forest, officers said. The penal provisions of these acts entail jail term and monetary fine, they further said.
Incidentally, Bhavnagar officers had also held a man from Gandhinagar on Thursday after samples of sandalwood were found from his possession. The alleged racket of had come to light last Saturday when a team of Bhavnagar forest officers conducted a raid on a gaushala in Bhadrod village of Mahuva taluka in Bhavnagar and found 329 kg of sandalwood worth Rs10 lakh approximately. Four persons were arrested during the raid.
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