Tura, Jan 27: Illegal timber smuggling racket involving gangs in the plains of Rajabala and Phulbari, extending all the way to Chibinang, have been revealed after village patrol parties seized three vehicles carrying logs of the forest product got confiscated during a night raid in Batabari village on January 26th morning.
“We are shocked to find that there are many timber laden pickups and trucks plying through our Batabari PWD and MREGS roads for a long time. Some of these pickups are also carrying cattle which are stolen from the remote Garo villages during the midnight time,” said Batabari village vigilance committee leaders.
Three truckloads of timber that was moving along the Batabari road on the night of January 25th was stopped by village defense party groups and when checked found to possess no documents at all.
“We were chasing one pickup truck carrying stolen cattle but could not catch the culprits. Luckily, we caught three vehicles, two Mahindra pickups and one truck bearing registration number AS-25 EC 4908, AS-18 C 8694, ML-07 B 2471 that were carrying timber without any documents. These vehicles came from Dadenggre road with the illegal consignment. They are using the road because there is no forest or police checking in this route,” exposed Batabari villagers.
The villagers say that illegal timber from as distant as Williamnagar in East Garo Hills is making its way all through the route into the plains of West Garo Hills before exiting towards Assam’s Dhubri and Goalpara districts without any accountability.
But what about forest and police checking?
Though the criminals are able to make use of small interior PMGSY roads to jig jag and escape there is the burning question about vigilance along the main roads.
“How is it possible for three trucks with timber to be able to pass through the roads without checking either by police or forest? That means this is happening time and again and someone is being paid to allow this illegal consignment to pass through to Assam,” complain Batabari villagers.
The villagers complained that criminal gangs are lifting cattle, stealing beteal nuts and timber from remote Garo villages and transporting them in the night into the plain belt without any danger of interception by police and forest.
“That is the reason why we have stopped movement at night, because illegal activities are taking place,” clarified Batabari villagers as they expressed worry about the rising cases of crime being perpetrated by gangs passing through their area.