'Sandalwood thief' shot dead by forest guards in Mysuru

'Sandalwood thief' shot dead by forest guards in Mysuru
A suspected sandalwood thief was shot dead by Forest Department personnel within the precincts of Lingambudhi Lake on the outskirts of Mysuru in the early hours of Saturday.

Shankar (32), a resident of Mahadevapura village in HD Kote taluk, was part of a nine-member gang of sandalwood thieves that was ambushed by forest personnel around 2.30 am. The sound of tree cutting had alerted forest guards patrolling the precincts of the lake. They darted to the direction of the sound and fired in the air to shoo the thieves away. But the gang attacked them with lethal weapons, forcing them to open fire in self-defence, Deputy Conservator of Forests V Karikalan said.

Shankar died in the firing while other suspects managed to escape. The jurisdictional Kuvempu Nagar police arrived at the spot and found sandalwood logs, machetes and iron rods.

Shankar’s body has been taken to KR Hospital for post-mortem. He was a habitual sandalwood smuggler and faced four cases in HD Kote taluk. He was once attacked by a wild elephant. He is survived by his wife and a child, police said.

The Lingambudhi Lake area was declared a forest in 2003 and is a protected area. It has 5,000-odd sandalwood trees, most of them around 30 years old. The Forest Department has intensified night patrolling as at least 11 sandalwood trees have been smuggled since February 2, Karikalan said.
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