IMPHAL, September 3: At least three truck loads of illegal red sandalwood has been seized from the residence of ex MLA of Wangoi from his Samurou Awang Leikai today.
A team of Imphal West sleuths of the Special Intelligence Unit (SIU) led by Inspector Ranjit raided the residence of Salam Joy after a specific tip off was received that the logs of red sandalwood was presently stored at his courtyard. The raid occurred at about 8.30 am.
The approximate cost of the expensive wood is speculated to be about 3 crore. The wood is sold at prices ranging from Rs 1500 upto Rs 2000 per kilogram at the Mayanmar border by Indian traders.
Police reports mentioned that the wood is smuggled from the jungles of Andhra Pradesh for transport to China where the wood is highly sought after. The main smuggler named in the black trade is said to be one Md Arif Khan, a resident of Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile, SIU has also pulled up another two individuals allegedly involved in the trade today. The smugglers are identified as Shiva Bihari, aged 50, s/o late Amirchand Shah of Bihar of Rotash District and at present running a grocery shop at MG Avenue. Another is identified as Anand Prasad, 32, s/o Mahindra Prasad, a resident of UP, Baliya district, at present residing at Mantripukhri.
The SIU has taken up a case in the regard under section 102 of the CrPC (unclaimed property).
It may be mentioned that this is the first time that the state police force has intercepted such a consignment of Red Sandalwood. The wood known as Rakta Chandan or scientifically as Pterocarpus Santalinus is found native to India in the Southern states. There is a lucrative market for smugglers as a high price is paid for the wood. Chinese traders are the main buyers as the wood is used for various purposes ranging from medicinal, carvings, cosmetics and for religious purposes.
The wood of the trunk (heartwood) is used in Chinese medicine for treating digestive tract problems, fluid retention, coughs, blood purification, lowering of blood pressure and checking sugar level of sugar level for diabetic patients.
Idols of Buddha and other craft items are made from the wood and the furniture made from it has been prized for millennia within the Chinese aristocracy.
A press statement by Imphal West SP, Jayanta mentions that the seized wood has been handed over to the State Forest Department.