Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Redwood Smugglers

Is truth coming out?

Yesterday, 7th April 2015, 20 people were shot dead in the Seshachalam forests, Chittoor District AP. It appears that a horde of people from Tamil Nadu had entered the forest, apparently employed by Redwood mafia. There were reports that they traveled in a Bus and the number of smugglers is put in the rage of 100 or so.

The smugglers seem to have known their business and from the way they have arranged it at this scale shows that it is not spontaneously they took the same bus (contracted, it appears) They knew where they were going and carried the tools required for the act. The sheer size indicates that this is an organized event, probably sponsored by some bigwigs in the background. Knowing how it works in TN, it is a Sangam of sewages of Police, Forest officials and politicians with counterparts on the other side.

Taking a bus across a state border requires passing check-posts of RTO, forest and probably even Tax authorities. No one had noticed that suddenly a group of wood cutters have taken to tourism to AP forests, with tools screaming the intent. And this group knew they will have to take a route similar to this with the contraband, probably. The very act that this was carried out under the very nose of various authorities on either side of the border indicates that it was business as usual.

This shows a total failure of administrative and law enforcement systems that are supposed to prevent Redwood cutting and smuggling. It is most probably being carried out by political powers of feudal origin that spells terror in the Govt employees who could have been cowed into keeping their eyes shut for pecuniary gains, the other choice being victimization.

However, the news that 20 of them were shot dead leaves one numb with disbelief. This was carried out by a newly formed Task force, it is reported. This organization probably is not in the know of 'Business as usual'. It is also possible that someone higher up who wanted to shut down the smuggling knew that relying on the usual law enforcement on the ground is ineffective and hence brought these people in. Either way the cure has been sought after the rot had set in the system.

And once the news of killing the usual political parasites were there to inflame the situation. These are bane of TN politics and there seems to be no 'mukti' for TN from these toxic leaders. All of them only add fuel and talk emotions instead of calming down the situation which is the need of the hour.

On the other hand, strangely, AP supporters were in full force rationalizing the killing. The divide is along linguistic and state border and I am maddened why it is not along the truth line.

There is no doubt that the smugglers were there with an intent to commit crime at a massive scale. It is also possible they were so brazen they thought their number gave them strength that they thought the AP Forest dept employees are impotent against their numeric strength. Probably they also threatened the AP law enforcing agencies, taunted and insulted them. Probably they attacked the Task force with stones and Axe as reported. Let me concede all of that.

The Task force could have been circumspect and chased them away. They could have asked for support on border to round up the smugglers. They could have taken photograph of the smugglers and initiated a massive legal proceeding. They could have shot some in the legs. Some in the chest.

But what makes it suspect is that all 20 are killed. It is difficult to shoot at a group of 20 and kill of of them. That is my point. There is no report of any survivors. That is the story that needs to be told. I do not want to make anyone a heartless human. Even those who shot are humans from our own ethos. I think they got scared and did not want to take any prisoners. May be they erred in the procedure and went on to wipe out all evidences by killing some of them in cold blood.

That is the story that needs to told. We need to know why there were no prisoners. Why no one survived with injuries, serious or otherwise. This is an evidence that cannot be wished away. The men of Task forces are not such sharp shooters that they shoot to kill every time. If they are indeed, they could have shot not to kill a few. If they are not sharp shooters, the probability of not leaving some injured is not a good alibi in their favor.

The truth alone can calm the situation and the TN leaders steeped in chauvinism are not expected to achieve it. It will take a lot of persuasion and time to heal this wound.

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