* Pengaree-Bordumsa Road under the scanner
* Doomdooma Forest personnel book four, seize two timber-laden trucks from Arunachal
DIGBOI: Doomdooma Forest personnel have busted an inter-State smuggling racket. Carrying out an operation, the officials intercepted two trucks loaded with illegal timber and also booked four persons in this regard.
Giving details, Pengaree Forest Ranger Hiren Kumar Medok said, "The operation was carried out in a novel format. We wore civil dresses and went to the spot on a hired private vehicle. Then we waited for the smugglers that were carrying consignments from nearby Arunachal to arrive there. Altogether four vehicles from Namsai were supposed to enter Assam via Tinsukia late Saturday evening. We succeeded in intercepting two timber-loaded trucks and held four smugglers at the Pengaree-Bordumsa Road under Bordumsa Police Station in Tinsukia District."
After taking possession of the vehicles this morning, the Ranger said, "We held two vehicles as the other two didn't arrive."
According to Medok, the illegally procured consignments — without any documents — were being transported to Digboi. The vehicles bearing registration numbers — AS23AC 7328, and AS01FC 4395 — along with the forest resource were seized. Investigation is on.
The four timber smugglers — Raju Borah and Gijendra Gwala, both from Doomdooma but hailing originally from Dhemaji, Suranjan Sharma of Naharkatiya and Mohammed Selem of Doomdoma — were booked under Sections 24,25,40,41 and 49 of Assam Forest Regulation Act.
"Several instances of inter-State smuggling of cattle, liquor, timber, PDS Rice, SK oil among other items are reported along this 36-kilometre-long Bordumsa-Pengaree Digboi route — most of which pass through areas of thick reserve forest. Smugglers have been taking advantage of the lockdown when most of the departmental manpower is diverted in COVID-pandemic-related activities.
When contacted on the modus operandi of these timber syndicates, a Forest official of the Doomdoma Division, said, "Once the illegal timber consignments transported along this road reach Digboi, we cannot act as they then produce documents; and assertion of crime becomes a tougher job thereafter. So we have to crack the racket as the consignments enter Assam's jurisdiction."
It may be added here that several licensed timber depots in Digboi — including the one at Muliabari — are running their business procuring timbers illegally from Arunachal. However, due to departmental blessings, the illegal consignments become legal as they produce fake challan documents of Doomdoma and Kakpather areas adjacent to Namsai, informed official sources.
Mushrooming timber depots here are unchecked and readymade buyers of Arunachal timber and its products. These depots offer these products for local consumption. The entire network is operated with a large smuggling group in unison having political and departmental nexus, departmental sources informed.