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In Photo: Representational photograph of red sandalwood. 

By A Newsman

Siliguri, 11 August: THE police in Siliguri Tuesday arrested two Chinese nationals on charges of smuggling red sandalwood, trading in which is prohibited both under Indian and international laws.

Qiupqinghua (35) and Cai Jun (34) were arrested by the Siliguri Police near Shivmandir during a naka checking put in place to foil subversive activities in the  run up to Independence Day.

The two hail from Fujian in China and were travelling in a white Xylo car with Delhi number plate DL-1YB-9168, which the police have now confiscated. Police have also arrested the driver of the car, Harinder Tiwari, who is from Delhi.

According to Shyam Singh, an additional deputy commissioner of Siliguri Police, altogether 105 red sandalwood planks and six red sandalwood logs have been seized from the car. This apart, Rs 2 lakh in cash has been found on the two Chinese nationals.

They have been booked under sections 379, 411 and 414 of the Indian Penal Code and other relevant provisions of wildlife conservation laws.

Police are yet to ascertain as to from where the red sandalwood were procured and what was the destination. “We have confiscated their passports and are calling in interpreters as the duo speaks only mandarin. The Chinese Consulate in Kolkata has also been informed of the arrest,” Mr Singh said.

Listed as an endangered species, trading in red sandalwood is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and flora (CITES). Exports of value added red sandalwood items are permitted under strict procedure and with valid permits.