Sandalwood smuggler shot dead by forest staff in Bannerghatta forest, another flees

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Bangalore Rural Superintendent of Police Mallikarjun Baladindi at the scene of the shootout on Tuesday morning.

BENGALURU: A sandalwood smuggler was killed while his accomplice escaped after the beat forest staff opened fire at them at Bannerghatta forest under Kalkere beat near Jedi Mara traffic signal in the wee hours on Wednesday.

Over the past one-and-half months, theft of sandalwood trees had been reported and the Forest Department had deployed beat staff to apprehend the smugglers.

The sandalwood trees chopped by the smugglers.

Around 1 am on Wednesday, the beat staff heard sounds of trees being cut and warned the smugglers to surrender. When the smugglers tried to attack them, the forest staffers opened fire, killing one of them while the other managed to flee. It is suspected that the dead smuggler hailed from Tamil Nadu.

The forest staff were alerted to sandalwood smuggling after they found gutka packets, stains and empty water bottles at the base of sandalwood trees in the Kalkere state forest near Jedi Mara signal, which is a plastic-free zone.

The weapons used by the sandalwood smugglers.

The beat staff including forest guard E Vinay Kumar, watcher Michale and another, patrolled the forest all through the night and when they heard the sound of tree being cut, they confronted the smugglers. When the smugglers tried to attack them with lethal weapons, forest guard Vinay opened fire with a pump action gun, killing one of the smugglers on the spot.

Bangalore Rural Superintendent of Police Mallikarjun Baladindi addressing the media.

Bangalore Rural Superintendent of Police Mallikarjun Baladindi visited the spot. “The forest guard and two watchers were patrolling the area at night due to rampant smuggling. When the patrol party heard some sounds of tree cutting, they approached the duo and asked them to surrender. But the smugglers tried to attack the patrol party with lethal weapons, the forest staff opened one round of fire in the air. When the smugglers threw a weapon at the forest staff, the guard fired another shot, killing him on the spot. The other smuggler fled the scene”, the SP said.

Bengaluru Urban district Deputy Commissioner Dayanand visited the spot.

Bengaluru Urban district Deputy Commissioner Dayanand too visited the spot and collected information from the Forest Department staff. “It is apparent that the two, who are not locals, were inside the forest with some intention as they possessed weapons and there were sandalwood logs. Prima facie, the forest staff seems to have acted in self-defence. An inquest and post-mortem and later a magesterial inquiry is usually done in such cases of encounter”, he said.

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