August 14, 2015 2:10:08 pm
A day after arresting a diamond trader from Surat with 505 kg of sandalwood, Bhavnagar forest officers held another man from Gandhingar on Thursday with samples of the aromatic wood. With this, as many as 10 people have been held in last six days in cases of sandalwood smuggling.
“Our team conducted a raid and arrested a man from Gandhinagar. The team has found samples of sandalwood in possession of the arrested man. We are ascertaining his identity and questioning him about the purpose of the samples,” deputy conservator of forest (DCF) of Bhavnagar, Ganga Sharan Singh said.
This is 10th arrest after four men of Mahuva taluka in Bhanvagar were held on Saturday. The four were arrested after 329 kg of sandalwood worth Rs10 lakh approximately was found in a guashala in Bhadrod village of Mahuva. Forest officers suspect the sandalwood seized from Mahuva and Surat was smuggled from Gir forest, the highly protected last natural home of Asiatic lions in the world. After arrests of Bhavnagar men, four men from Amreli district were arrested by Gir East forest division officers on Tuesday. The Amreli quartet are currently in custody of Gir East division.
On Wednesday, Kamlesh Shah, a diamond trader was arrested by Bhavnagar officers from his residence in Amroli area of Surat after 503 kg of sandalwood worth approximately Rs20 lakh was found in his home. Bhavnagar officers were to hand over custody of Shah to Gir East division late on Thursday evening.
Officers suspect that the arrested men had formed a racket to illegally cut sandalwood trees from Gir forest area and revenue areas spread across Amreli, Junagadh and Gir Somnath districts and sell it through agents.
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