One killed, two arrested as smugglers clash with police
SINDHUPALCHOK, Sept 16: A smuggler was killed in clash between a group of red sandalwood smugglers and the police at Syalangkatti near the border with China on early Sunday morning. Police also arrested two smugglers after the clash.
The clashed erupted after police encountered 50 porters carrying sandalwood along with other smugglers.
After the smugglers started to attack seven policemen with the spears, Khukuri and stones, the police opened fire killing Bibek Shrestha of Hagam VDC-5 on the spot. Shrestha was a porter accompanying the smugglers carrying sandalwood to the Tibet.
After police opened fire, the smugglers and the porters fled the scene leaving the sandalwoods. Police recovered 72 logs of 1.5 tons of sandalwood. According to Bishow Karki, Police Inspector at Boarder Police Post in Larcha, police had to fire 9 round to bring the situation under control.
According to Inspector Karki, those arrested have been identified as Birkha Bahadur Shrestha(26) of Fulpingkatti-1, Gokundol and Pratap Tamang (53) of Fulpingkatti-8. Birkha Bahadur, who is driver by profession, was leading the porters to the destination while Thamang was also a porter carrying the red sandalwood.
“After the smugglers sent the crowd toward us brandishing khukuris and hurling stones, we were forced to open fire for our safety,” said Assistant Sub-Inspector Rajan Karki, in-charge of local police post at Fulpingkatti.
The two told the police that the seized sandalwood belongs to Narayan Poudel of Fulpingkot. According to police, Poudel has entrusted Nima Sherpa and Prakash Karki with the job to carry the red sandalwood to the Khasa.
“Nima provided me Rs 5,000 and asked me guide the porters to the China boarder,” Inspector Karki quoted Birkha Bahadur as saying in his statement. Pratap, who was carrying four logs of the sandalwood, conceded that he took the job as the Nima lured him with the wage of Rs 200 per kg.
Poudel, businessmen importing Chinese products, was arrested for illegal dealings in foreign currency three years ago. However after his release two years ago, he has been linked to the red sandalwood smuggling.
After the police increased its activities against the red sandalwood, smugglers have continued the illegal transport of the red sandalwood with new modes of operation and through new short-cut route through jungle evading security posts along the Arniko highway.