Marayoor: Seven sandalwood trees were chopped down and stolen from a private plot at Kovilkadavu near Marayoor in Kerala's Idukki district. These are worth Rs 50 lakh, according to the forest department.
The theft was reported just days after a tribal woman was shot dead by a gang of sandalwood smugglers, who suspected that she had tipped-off the officials about the illegal activities.
The mafia has smuggled several sandalwood trees, worth crores of rupees, from the private plots in the Anjunad region during the last two years. Despite the rampant thefts in private plots, the authorities have not been able to track down the culprits or the stolen logs.
The police have the responsibility to probe the theft of sandalwood trees from private land. However, there are fewer cops at the Marayoor police station. And the culprits are taking advantage of this.
Marayoor range officer Arun Maharaja said that the remains of the theft committed two months ago have been found now and that the investigation was under way.
Demands have been raised for a special probe team to put an end to the sandalwood theft in the area.