Kupwara, Apr 15 (GNS): Amid the ongoing lockdown over coronavirus pandemic, smugglers are having a field day in many areas of north-Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
The brazen felling of the green gold has been continuing in many areas of Handwara, Kupwara, Lolab, Rajwar, Chowkibal and Langate.
The smugglers, the reliable sources said, stepped their pace since the positive cases of Covid-19 spiked in the district.
“They (smugglers) are taking undue advantage of the people and authorities being indoors for the lockdown period,” they said.
At many places, the people also encroaching upon the government land, reports said.
When contacted, the Forest Conservator Irfan Rasool said the department received information about “a few” smugglers being active in the district.
“We also received information about some smuggling. In fact, many cases have already been taken up. The department is keeping a constant check on such elements,” he told GNS.
The official however said the smuggling is not going on at a large scale.
“What happens is that the people, who are at home these days, bring stumps and timber wood for stock but some people take to social media to give create hype to it. This is more dangerous,” he said. “We are constantly monitoring the situation and the people also should restrain from spreading romours about each and everything.”
Despite the present situation, our officials “acted swiftly to scuttle such attempts”, the Forest Conservator said.
He warned the smugglers of dire consequences, saying anyone found involved in any such activity will be booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).
“Since the J&K is a UT now, the new laws are more stringent with the Indian Forest Act coming into action,” he said.
Meanwhile, the official has urged the people to vacate the encroached upon land.
“Due to lockdown, the things are going a bit slow but once it is over, we will initiate action to check such encroachments,” he said, adding, “Strict action will be taken against the offenders.” (GNS)