Hyderabad, Apr 12: As many as 63 woodcutters from neighbouring Tamil Nadu were today arrested in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh and 40 logs of red sanders wood worth Rs 2 crore were seized from their possession, police said.
During the combing operation in the district, police teams nabbed two groups of woodcutters from two locations and seized 40 logs of wood besides four vehicles from them, Nellore District Superintendent of Police Gajarao Bhupal told PTI over phone.
"Those arrested are suspected to be part of the groups of woodcutters allegedly involved in felling of red sanders trees in Seshachalam hill ranges of Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh on April 7," the SP said adding, there is a possibility in this regard as per preliminary investigation.
Red sanders, an endangered species, also called red sandalwood, has a huge demand abroad, especially in China and Japan, and commands a good price.
It is grown mainly in Seshachalam hill ranges spread across Kadapa, Chittoor and Kurnool in Rayalaseema region and parts of Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh.
Twenty people from Tamil Nadu were gunned down in a police operation in Seshachalam hill ranges of Chittoor district on April 7 even as the family members and relatives of the deceased alleged that the incident was a "planned murder" by AP Police.
However, AP police claimed that after coming under attack by the woodcutters, who were armed with axes, sickles, stones and firearms, the police opened fire in self defence as 11 police personnel were injured.