BOURG20 mins 353 20 mins 353
Note: This story needs parental guidance owing to some violent and intense sequences involved in some parts of the story...
On May 20, 2000, "The special task force personnel of Andhra Pradesh police today caught four smugglers belonging to Tamil Nadu, who were smuggling out red sandalwood from Tirumala Hills to an undisclosed destination.
Thirteen precious red sandalwood logs were seized from their possession along with the vehicle at the Alipiri toll gate early morning today. In what can be termed alarming, these smugglers were transporting the red sandalwood from Tirumala Hills which is a protected and sacred zone to an undisclosed location."
Those Four smugglers: Murugesan Jaipal, Ramalingam Arunachalam, Bhupal Kandaswamy and driver Perumal smuggled red sandalwood from Tirumala Hills near Tirupathi-Chittoor borders. They had gone to an undisclosed destination.
Ironically, it was the fifth attempt in which the same vehicle was used for smuggling.
DCP Gokul Reddy IPS(from Sesachalam) and his team(led by ACP Joseph George IPS) catch the smugglers, when they were attempting to escape at the Allipiri toll gate early morning.
In the ensuing shootout that occurred between the police and smugglers, Gokul Reddy gets killed. The four smugglers also gets killed by George.
The media people arrives to the place and asked George, "Sir. How did you found this news?"
"DCP Gokul sir have led us to this place. Today around 3.30 am we got solid information that this smuggling activity is taking place and in particular vehicle, it is being transported. This vehicle was decked like tourists and devotees vehicle. We intercepted this vehicle near the Alipiri toll gate. But unfortunately I was shocked to know that, he too have aided the four smugglers in their activities. As he tried to kill us, I shot him out of self-defence. He died on the spot while, those four got killed by me."
Gokul's family is refused for renumeration, pensions and government support. While, Joseph is promoted as DSP for his brave efforts in catching the red sandalwood smugglers.
Gokul's family commits suicide, unable to bear the insults and humiliations.
EIGHTEEN YEARS LATER:
Eighteen years have passed now, Joseph have now retired from the police department. He had been going towards the Talakona Forestry, exactly at 9:30 PM. While he was going in the car, a passerby stops him. It was raining heavily at that time.
He was wearing raincoat and have covered his face completely. The passerby gives him a giftbox, asking him to open the box while going in the car. Joseph reluctantly gets the box from the passerby and while driving towards the bridge of Godavari River, he eventually opens the box.
Inside the box, he notices a sharp spring and he touches it. Eventually, his hand drew blood and he faints down. The passerby have followed him in his bike. He kidnaps Joseph and brings him back to a secluded place near to Talakona Forest, which looks dark and dense.
After sometimes, Joseph wakes up from his unconscious state of mind.
"Where am I? Which Place is this?," Joseph looked around the place, by thinking.
"What Joseph? Are you surprised to see this kind of a secluded and dark place?," the passerby asked him.
"Hey. Who are you? Why did you brought me here?," asked Joseph with the symbol of tiredness.
"Relax Joseph. Why are you shouting? You have got retired. Even got settled by getting so many bribes and earned much money. However, besides all of these you have forgot one incident, which developed you to this position."
Joseph looks at him with a look of fear and gaze. The passerby says, "The spring is having a poison called Cyanide. I have injected it carefully. Don't worry Joseph. You would slowly die after five hours."
The passerby leaves from the place taking away the giftbox. Since he doesn't wish to leave a clue behind after killing a person. However, he leaves the tattoo of red(colour) in the left hand of Joseph.
After coming away from the dark side of the forest, the passerby opens his face. He looks stylish, pretty gold and have dark blue eyes. He have a thick and small beard with a moustache around his mouth. The guy tells in voice-over, "My name is Akhilesh. I suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder[since childhood days.] I would get diverted quickly if surrounded by so many people. That's why I brought him to a dark and secluded place in order to get him killed."
A forest tribe notices the dead body of Joseph. He informs this to the police. ASP Raghava Reddy arrives to the spot and learns that it's Joseph, who got murdered by the murderer(Akhilesh).
Akhilesh is a Law student(B.A.,L.L.B) in Andhra University of Vishakapatnam. He is the third year student of the batch and is one of the brilliant, intelligent and top ranking student of the course in the college.
"Today we are going to see Section 317 and Section 318. Now, Let us start with Section 319 of the Indian Penal code," A professor was taking the class for students. At that time, a worker comes and tells, "She is a new admission sir. Name is Ankitha and her hometown is near Prakasham."
Upon hearing this, Akhilesh gets shocked and surprised. Ankitha looked beautiful and gorgeous, thanks to her facial expressions. Her face was cheeky with a attracting black eyes and weared a steel-rimmed spectacles.
"Good morning sir," said Ankitha.
"Good morning ma. Come inside," said Professor.
"Thank you sir," said Ankitha and she goes to her bench.
"You can take the help of someone to get the notes of my previous class,"
"Okay sir." Ankitha said.
"You can give her the notes later." The professor said to Akhilesh's friend Adhithya Reddy, when he was about to give her the notes.
After the class, Akhilesh remembers his childhood encountering with Ankitha and looks at her, when he was leaving home with Adhithya Reddy.
Adhithya then follows his classmate Anjali and asked her, "Hey Anju. Shall we go for coffee?"
He then tells Akhilesh, "Hey Akhilesh. I will come later. You go." Hearing his name as Akhilesh, Ankitha recollects her childhood memories, where she had met him and recgnizes him as her childhood friend.
She goes to him and asked, "Excuse me! Are you Akhilesh?"
"Are you from Prakasham district?"
Meanwhile, ASP Raghava Reddy learns from the postmortem specialist that, "Joseph have touched a spring, which caused his body to get the dangerous cyanide, that was injected in his body. He have died after twelve hours and have suffered so much of tortures, which showcased through some injuries in legs and hands."
Since the dead man is a police officer, DGP Nagendra Ramachandra Naidu IPS requests Raghava Reddy to do parallel investigation about the murder, so that they can get some clues.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh sees his younger sister Harini's photo in his house and becomes emotional thinking about her safety. Since the death of their parents, Akhilesh raised up Harini carefully. Because, she is suffering from PTSD, which she have developed due to the stressful situation before few years ago.
She is now studying in Osmania University of Hyderabad as a second year student. After speaking with Harini, Akhilesh targets two other people. One is: Finance Minister Dharmendar Naidu and the other is: Vijayendra Bhupati(Agricultural Minister).
As the police team fail to find any clues except the red tatoo, DGP appoints a special officer, Siddharth Rao, to investigate the case. Akhilesh is sipping tea infront of a police station and learns that, Finance Minister Dharmendra Naidu is out for Prakasham in order to attend a function.
Akhilesh marks his photo with red-pen in his targets, that are lying in the board of his house. Before this process, he burns and destroys the details and relevant things about Joseph tactfully, noting that there is no clue that are left behind.
Afterwards of this, Akhilesh suddenly forgets what he was doing before and sits awkward for ten minutes. Then he remembers and recollects that, he had been studying about the Finance Minister's arrival. He successfully pins him as his next target.
With the help of a local guy, Akhilesh learns that, Dharmendar Naidu have came to Prakasham. Henceforth, Akhilesh have already prepared an artificial lightning object, which he have planned to pass into Naidu, once he is ready to enter into the car.
For this, Akhilesh have read several physics theories and laws to gain a knowledge about the method of doing lightning. With the help of a physics student(his neighbour), he have devised the artificial lightning.
After Dharmendra Naidu entered outside the function and about to get into his car, Akhilesh releases the Artificial lightning, far away from a tall building. The minister died on the spot. He then tactfully, threws the same red tatoo near to his dead body, (tatoo found during the death of Joseph also). This creates political tensions all over the places of Andhra Pradesh. Henceforth, Chief Minister asks the Police Department to speed up the case.
ONE WEEKS LATER:
Infuriated Siddharth Rao starts a parallel investigation about this case. Through several people and his colleagues, he comes to learn that Joseph got killed by a cyanide, which passed through his body with the help of a sharp spring.
Siddharth Rao too is a smart and intelligent cop. In his childhood, he have read a lots of novel, stories and the style of handling investigations.
"I think, the killer might have read a lots of crime books, written by Arthur Conan Doyle. Through the books, he might have gained thorough knowledge of committing murders." Siddharth said to his colleagues.
"Sir. How come you say like such?"
"He have used the method of sharp spring. I meant to say that, antagonist Culverton Smith used this method inorder to kill his relative Victor. Like the same way, he have executed this murder perfectly." Siddharth Rao said.
"Sir. It's all I understand very well. But, there was a red tatoo found in the left arm of Joseph." His colleague said.
"I think he is trying to convey something through the red tattoo," Siddharth said.
The next day back to the college, he is attending an exam. While writing the exam, Ankitha notices his writing style[with his left hand] was similar to her childhood friend Akhilesh and and remembers him doing the same in their childhood. Suspecting something wrong in his activities, she follows him to library and notices him reading about the murders.
After bribing the registrar, she manages to get the attendance register. She finds out that, Akhilesh was absent during both days of murders. Inorder to confirm that he is doing murders, she goes into the library and checks his book entries. There, she found that he have bought the books of Sherlock Holmes Short Stories and Laws and Theories of Artificial Lightning.
Then, she goes to his home and finds out that, Akhilesh's sister have returned in order to meet him. She tells him, "I don't know why you are avoiding me. But, I know that you are my childhood friend. Because, My Akhilesh also writes in left-hand only."
He accepts that, he is her childhood friend. Then, she becomes attached to his sister and comes to learn that, she have came back to do funeral for their dead family members in a temple near Prakasham, at the banks of Krishna River. Adhithya also have came there.
With the support of Adhithya, Ankitha asks to Akhilesh that, they would accompany them. He reluctantly agrees for the sake of his sister.
At the same time, Siddharth forms a meeting with his police teammate and tells, "By analyzing these two murders, I have came to a conclusion."
"What's that conclusion sir?" A colleague asked her.
"These two people were killed with the theories of Sherlock Holmes and Artifiical Lightning. That's on one side. When we take on the other side, we can see to that, the killer is left-handed, on accounts of Joseph's case analysis. In addition, he have delayed for sometimes during Joseph's death. That means, he is psychologically weak(may be). Besides this, he must be young and strong."
"How you say that he is young and strong sir? That's impossible." Other colleague pointed out the fault.
"Go and get me a strong coffee." The officer goes from the place.
"As per my analysis, he won't go by two murders. He would go for next target too. We have to be careful and sincere. And this time we have to catch him. Because, a politician itself have got killed."
TWO WEEKS LATER:
Two weeks later Akhilesh comes to the police station of Raghava Reddy in order to register a complaint about his lost phone. There, Siddharth notices his way of holding the pen in left hand. Noting this, he shifts the pen to right hand and signs the letter. Siddharth suspects his activities and decides to have an eye on him.
Later Adhithya Reddy, Ankitha, Akhilesh and his sister Harini goes to a temple near Prakasham, where he wears white dhoti and upanayana, which he used to wear regularly in his childhood days after reading rigvedas, where he read about Brahmins wearing this kind of upanayana.
The priest asked him, "To whom you have to do funeral rights?"
The priest finishes the funeral rights by chanting few slogans and gives him a few flowers and a food. He asked Akhilesh to immerse them by standing to the east side of the sun and he have to immerse his head into the water three times...
As per the guidance, Akhilesh does and he prays to the sun for ten minutes after finishing these procedures. Meanwhile, Siddharth goes to Akhilesh's house with the help of few people. He and his team search for some evidences regarding him.
But, nothing was found. Then, Akhil recalls the events where he have destroyed all the evidences by burning(including the Minister's photo and few others). In addition, he have returned the books of Sherlock Holmes and Theories of Artificial Lightning back to the Library already.
He was satisfied that, no clues are left. However, one of Siddharth's colleague shouts, "Sir!!!"
He rushes and finds out that, Akhilesh is the son of former DSP Gokul Reddy, who worked in Sesachalam taluk. In addition, they finds out the details of four Red Sandalwood smugglers and various other evidences, that were found by Akhilesh. Now he realizes that the tattoo was placed by Akhil in the crime scene of those two victims inorder to showcase the red sandalwood smuggling in Tirupathi, Chittoor and Sesachalam hills respectively and their involvement as a supporters in the criminal activities.
After a while Akhilesh remembers that, he have forgot to take the details of Red Sandalwood Smugglers and the evidences, which proved his father's innocence and several hidden truths.
Now, he is grief-stricken and feared. Then, Ankitha notices DSP Gokul Reddy's photo in Harini's hand and she gets it from her. She then confronts them and Akhil angrily tells her, "I am Akhilesh Reddy. Son of DSP Gokul Reddy IPS. As per the public only, my father was a supporter of Red Sandalwood Smugglers. But in reality, it's untrue. None knew what happened at that time. Even to my sister, I haven't told this. It's known to me and Adhithya Reddy."
RED SANDALWOOD SMUGGLING IN SESACHALAM:
My father was posted as DSP of Sesachalam. While working there, he have found various problems in the place. He wanted to investigate this case and took it up, aided by Joseph.
He started a parallel investigation about this. Before that, he planned to know what's red sanders and met a villager. Through him, he learned that: "Red sanders are a rare kind of sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus) that grows only in the Palakonda and Seshachalam hills, with sporadic growth in a few places like Kurnool, Prakasam, Anantapur and Nellore districts in Andhra Pradesh. While it is not widely used in India, it is highly valued in South East Asia and in the Gulf nations, where it is used in certain kinds of traditional medicine, as well as in the manufacture of musical instruments and certain other kinds of wooden items.
As red sanders are included in the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), their legal export is very strictly regulated, and the global market survives mostly on the basis of smuggling. One tonne of 'A grade' quality red sander logs fetches anywhere between Rs 1 to 1.5 crores and the prices of the lower grade wood range between Rs 25 to 50 lakh in the international market.
This lucrative market has generated an entrenched, well-connected smuggling racket. This indiscriminate felling, coupled with recurrent droughts and wildfires, is posing a serious threat to the plant species, as it strongly affects the regeneration and seeding of red sanders. Red sanders have a xenogamous seed production mechanism (where pollen from one flower transfer directly to the flower on another tree), which is dependent on the overall population size as well as the availability of superior pheno/genotypes for production of good quality seeds. Thus the reduction in population size and lack of good quality individual plants puts the continued survival of the species at risk."
In the further investigation, he learned that politicians Dharmendra Naidu and Vijayendra Bhupati are also involved in these smuggling activities. Joseph is hungry for power and promotion. Jealous of my father, he informed to those politicians that, my father have found their involvement.
Then, my father got informed that few Tamilnadu smugglers are smuggling the Red Sandalwood from Tirupathi and he gone to catch them. There, Joseph acted smart and killed my father. In addition, he killed those smugglers also and framed my father as corrupt. He made the scene look like, those smugglers and my father killed each other.
"Unable to bear humiliation and insults my mother committed suicide. We were left on to the roads. I was not willing to live a life and planned to commit suicide. But, I noticed some of evidences, saved by my father in his computer and laptop. I then, decided that I have to save the reputation of my father and started to target these people. I have planned to expose Vijayendra with the evidences, saved by my father in his Laptop and Computers. I have the print out evidence too...that's in the hands of Police officers," Akhilesh said to them.
His sister faints down having heard this tragic past of her father. However, she later regained her consciousness. Siddharth realizes the cause for Akhilesh's vengeance and decides to help him in his cause for fight. Henceforth, he goes to meet his superior officer with the evidences about Red Sandalwood Smuggling(that was prepared by Akhil's father).
He presents about the smugglers and political influences through a player in the meeting with police officers. While, Akhil opens his laptop and showcases about red sanders and smuggling to Adhithya Reddy, Harini and Ankitha.
"Can you see this one? Chennai serves as the nerve centre of a well-organised smuggling network that is severely threatening the rare red sander population. There is a systematic extinction steadily proceeding in the hills of Andhra Pradesh, and it seems that little the government, police or forest officials can do has significantly halted this. While there is no comprehensive tree census available, some estimates suggest that the natural distribution of red sanders in Andhra Pradesh has fallen by at least 50% over the last two decades."
"Akhil. Isn't there any reports about these things by the media or Intelligence reports?" Adhithya Reddy asked him.
"Indeed yes. There are some source of reports about these smuggling activities. According to sources at the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, which is one of the nodal agencies tasked with preventing red sander smuggling, nearly 90% of of the 3,000-tonne annual red sander demand globally was met through smuggling and the seaport in Chennai is the nerve centre of this illegal trade.
In the 2016-17 financial year, the Chennai zonal unit of the DRI had seized more than 50 metric tonnes of red sanders. Though the corresponding figure for 2017-18 is yet to be compiled, on Monday alone, the DRI seized 40 metric tonnes of red sanders worth about Rs 16 crores at Punrutti, near Chennai. According to DRI sources, smugglers hire poachers to locate and cut down the trees, paying them between Rs 20 and Rs 40 per kilogram based on the market demand. So, while smugglers make lakhs out of each tonne, the poachers based in the rural parts of Chittoor, Kadapa, Nellore and Kurnool districts of AP who cut the trees are paid as little as Rs 50,000 to 1 lakh per tonne."
"Akhilesh. How much smuggling continues unhindered?" Ankitha asked him.
"Police, customs and DRI officials acknowledge that seizure efforts represent only the tip of the iceberg. For every tonne of smuggled red sanders seized, nearly 10 tonnes escape under the radar, say sources.
One major reason for this, say officials, is that there is a lack of coordination between Tamil Nadu and Andhra governments, which allows smugglers to evade checks as the wood is transported to Chennai.
Sources also point to the connivance of local police and customs officials in helping this network thrive.
Officials also allege that investigations have not sufficiently proceeded beyond the low level poachers and smugglers to the high level functionaries who wield the real political and economic influence that sustains the network. In many cases, they say, the operators who are caught with the smuggled wood are ignorant of the larger pieces of the network.
The DRI – which comes into action when red sanders are being smuggled out of India – meanwhile, is struggling to maintain the informer network that is a crucial element in its investigative efforts. According to DRI sources, the agency is struggling to pay the commission that informers are entitled to whenever smuggled red sanders are seized and sold.
These consignments are to be sold off through government auctions, and 20% of the proceeds paid to informers. However, DRI officials say, due to stringent restrictions applied under the CITES, legal auctions do not take place. As a result, informers are not sufficiently incentivised."
Police department feels that, "Reputation might go away for their department. Because, their own man is involved in this smuggling crime." They refuses to help Siddharth, after which he asked them, "Why they failed to save the reputation of Gokul Reddy, when he got framed for the mistake which he didn't do?"
This makes them realize their mistakes and they eventually exposes the politics support in smuggling activities to the public in a video. They showcases Joseph, Naidu and Vijayendar as culprits. This forces Chief Minister to dismiss Vijayendar. He loses his post and gets arrested by the CBI officers(to whom the case is transferred with the evidence been grabbed by them).
Gokul Reddy is told as the state hero and honest person. He gets praised by the public for his hard work. Akhilesh is honored and heaps praise by the CM for his bravery. He finally reunites with Adhithya Reddy, Harini and Ankitha to start a new life once their course is finished.
While walking with them, he notices a reflection of his father smiling at him.
EPILOGUE ABOUT RED SMUGGLING:
While much has been said and done at the supply end in Andhra Pradesh, the enforcement gaps that allow this network to smuggle so many tonnes of the wood through Tamil Nadu receive far less glare.
The logs are then hidden in agricultural fields before they are transported to Chennai by various road routes.
"Red sander logs are smuggled through land borders between Andhra and Tamil Nadu with the connivance of local police. Smugglers use even posh cars to smuggle smaller quantities of red sanders and store them in their godowns or in agricultural fields," a senior police official said.
The vast industrial belt stretching from Oragadam in Kancheepuram district to Royapuram in Chennai, offers the best possible cover for the smuggling network. The large container yards and godowns in these areas are used by smugglers to store and load red sanders into containers.
"The smugglers have perfected the system to manipulate the loopholes in container movement monitoring. The container scanning system at Chennai port is not comprehensive and only a handful of containers are scanned based on its risk perception," a DRI official said.
The official explains that smugglers take advantage of the practice of factory-stuffing, where containers for export are verified by customs officials at the loading source and sealed. Once the container lock is sealed after verification, the container is carried from its source, most often located at the outskirts of the city, to the Chennai port.
Smugglers manipulate this distance and divert the container to one of the large container yards en route. They then cut the container lock rod at both ends, without disturbing the sealed lock and open the container to stuff it with red sanders. The logs are hidden under the original export consignment, and the container lock rod is re-welded, rubbed and painted to remove any sign of disturbance. The container then proceeds to the port. And with all papers regarding customs clearance in hand, it gets a green signal to travel to the destination port.
"Customs carry out searches in locked containers only if we get a specific information regarding smuggling. Otherwise, these containers get automatically loaded into the carriers," a customs official said. Sources say that many officials are working hand in glove with the smugglers in return for hefty kickbacks.
Red sandalwood smuggling is a big menace for last many decades in Andhra Pradesh. This precious wood which is found richly in Chittoor district, including Tirumala and Tirupati is in huge demand, especially from other Asian countries.