Blood Sanders – The Great Forest Heist, is a maiden book of Sudhakar Reddy Udumula, a senior journalist with over three decades of crime reporting. He donned author’s cap, to expose the nefarious criminal network and operations associated with the Red Sanders smuggling from the dense forests of Seshachalam in South India, which culminates in the cosy homes in China and Japan.
Hon’ble Mr Justice N.V. Ramana, Chief Justice of India; E – Launched the book. Later an eminent panel comprising of M.V. Krishna Rao, IPS, Former DG SSB; P. Raghuveer, IFS, Retired Principal Chief Conservator of Forests; Prof. Madabhusi Sridhar, Dean, School of Law, Mahindra University & Former CIC; participated in a panel discussion moderated by Uma Sudhir, Executive Editor, NDTV; today at Bhaskara Auditorium.
The author drawing upon his immense exposure of reporting on Red Sanders smuggling network, strongly felt the need to spill the beans about the criminal, politician, bureaucrat nexus in annihilating the forests and depriving the country of its rich resources.
The book is pertinent today more than ever, as the forests are witnessing an unprecedented upsurge in the smuggling. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic that shook the world, smuggling went about unhindered. The incessant ringing of alarm bells harbinger the extinction of the endangered Red sanders species unique to South of India, in a decade from now.
The current plight of Red Sanders or ‘red gold’ is due to it being the source of funding political and criminal deeds in and around Rayalaseema of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in South India. It is believed to have turned many into millionaires, while claiming the lives of the illegal woodcutters who form the frontline of this organised crime syndicate. The book is the first step in understanding the complex network that drives this illegal trade across borders and the number of players involved from top to bottom.
The book comprises of ten chapters, each dealing with a different facet of the organized crime syndicate that is red sanders smuggling. In the opening chapter, the book explores different reasons why red sanders is considered valuable; it also briefly looks at the wood’s significance to Indian and different world cultures.
The next three chapters provide a detailed insight into the inception of the world of red sanders smugglers, along with vignettes of their popular scandals. Focusing on the smuggling process at the ground level, the fifth chapter fleshes out structures, stages, and the logistics involved in carrying out this international racket.
The two subsequent chapters dive into countermeasures initiated by the State to curtail red sanders smuggling, including the formation of a Special Task Force, and how these measures fared over the time. Included in it is also an interesting firsthand experience of the author who journeyed with the police and forest forces that protect red sanders species.
‘Chittoor Encounter’ narrates the horrible incident that took place in April 2015, along with an objective commentary at points on the same. A racket that is as huge in scope and extent as red sanders smuggling cannot have been carried out without accomplices, so the next chapter explores the details of the intricate connections among elections, politicians, and smugglers.
Since all roads, in this case, lead to China, the penultimate chapter cuts through to the source of the reasons why China is obsessed over red sanders and what factors lead to the demand that is quenched only by a global racket. In the last chapter, the book enumerates the measures that need to be observed in letter and spirit to ensure zero felling and to protect, as well as to conserve, the endangered species of red sanders.