Acting on a tip-off, a team of Bhavnagar forest division officers raided the residence of one Kamlesh Shah in Amroli area of Bhavnagar city in the wee hours and seized the sandalwood worth approximately Rs 20 lakh.Written by Gopal B Kateshiya | Rajkot | Updated: August 13, 2015 4:25 am
Acting on a tip-off, a team of Bhavnagar forest division officers raided the residence of one Kamlesh Shah in Amroli area of Bhavnagar city in the wee hours and seized the sandalwood worth approximately Rs 20 lakh. “We had a tip-off that a consignment of smuggled sandalwood had been sent to Surat from Saurashtra. Based on this input, our team conducted a raid on Shah’s house and arrested him after seizing the sandalwood consignment,” said Ganga Sharan Singh, deputy conservator of forest (Bhavnagar).
The seizure in Surat comes three days after 329 kg of sandalwood worth Rs 10 lakh was recovered from a gaushala in Bhadrod village of Mahuva taluka in Bhavnagar. The precious wood was cut from Gir forests. Sources involved in the investigation said the sandalwood seized from Shah’s residence was cut from Gir East Division forests, and the merchant was likely to be handed over to officers of the division.
Meanwhile, acting on the inputs provided by Bhavnagar officers, Gir East officers arrested four persons on Tuesday evening in connection with the sandalwood smuggling. The four have been identified as Jaga Rathod, Dinesh Parmar (both from Amreli), Dhanji Sisanda and Karamshi Sisanda (both from Dhari). The four were produced in a Dhari court and were remanded to a six-day custody of Gir East forest officers.
“There were incidents of cutting of sandalwood trees from forest and revenue areas in Gir East Division around a year ago. We suspect these people were behind that theft of sandalwood,” Gir East DCF Anshuman Sharma said.
Sources said Dhanji was pointsman of Lalji Jinjala, a resident of Mahuva. Jinjala, in turn, used to sell smuggled sandalwood through Jaysukh Patel, a diamond merchant of Bhavnagar. Incidentally, Jinjala and three others were arrested by Bhavnagar forest officers Saturday after sandalwood, suspected to have been smuggled from Gir forests, was found stored in guashala.