Four alleged timber smugglers were arrested on Saturday in a major drive in the Bhaderwah area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district, a senior official said.
One of the arrested smugglers, Masood Ahmed of Batara village in Phigsoo tehsil, was booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) and lodged in district jail Bhadarwah, Divisional Forest Officer, Bhaderwah, Chander Sheikhar said.
He said Ahmed, who is the first timber smuggler arrested under the PSA in the Jammu province, was named in several FIRs over the past 10 years.
“His dossier was prepared and sent to deputy commissioner Doda who passed the orders for his detention under the PSA,” the officer said.
The PSA is an administrative law that allows detention without charge or trial for up to two years in some cases.
In another operation, Sheikhar said three more timber smugglers were arrested from the Thathri area of Doda.
“We have inputs that scores of smugglers are trying to escape the crackdown into the neighbouring Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. We are after them and they will be arrested soon,” he said.
The DFO said a total of 45 mechanical cutters have been seized and two dozen offenders booked in the past one month for violating a ban imposed by Deputy Commissioner, Doda, Vikas Sharma on the sale, purchase and use of portable chain saw on May 5.
Sheikhar said some persons from the Tanta area of Chirala range and Bhalessa range of Forest Division were also indulging in timber and minor forest produce (MFP) smuggling.
“We have prepared half a dozen dossiers and strict action against them is also on the cards,” he said.