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Andhra court sends former model to jail for red sanders smuggling

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The police plan to move a petition to seek her custody for interrogation in various cases booked in Chittoor district.
Image credit: Screenshot/Sahasra Television Bharat Today
A court in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday sent to jail former air hostess and model Sangeeta Chatterjee for her alleged involvement in red sanders smuggling.
The 26-year-old was arrested by the Andhra Pradesh Police from her residence in Kolkata on Tuesday night, was brought to Chittoor district and presented before a court at Pakala. The magistrate sent her to judicial custody for 14 days.
The woman was later shifted to Chittoor sub-jail. The police plan to move a petition to seek her custody for interrogation in various cases booked in Chittoor district.
The woman was allegedly involved in spreading red sanders smuggling network in six states in India and also in other countries, including China and Japan.
Chatterjee is allegedly the second wife of red sanders smuggler M. Lakshman, who was arrested in July 2014 from Nepal.
Lakshman, who hails from Manipur, was settled in Chennai where he had a wife. Till his arrest in July 2014, he was considered the biggest smuggler involved in felling of red sandalwood trees in the forests of Chittoor, Kurnool and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh.
According to the police, Chatterjee studied till Class 10 and became a model in TV commercials. She later did some course and became an air hostess. She came in contact with Lakshman in Kolkata, where he frequently stayed as he had established a base there too.
After the arrest of Lakshman, Chatterjee had taken over the control of his network’s illegal activities, including hawala transactions of crores of rupees.
Andhra Pradesh Police had in 2016 raided her residence in Kolkata and seized several documents for properties.
However, a local court granted her bail, dealing a blow to Andhra Pradesh Police’s efforts to bring her to justice.
Chatterjee failed to appear before the court despite summons being issued on six occasions. In December, the court issued a non-bailable warrant against her.
With Chatterjee finally in their custody, Andhra Pradesh Police hope to gather information about smuggling network and its activities ranging from felling red sanders trees to their smuggling to illegal arms dealings.
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