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In northeastern India, timber smugglers are becoming a big threat to forest guards. Forest officials are finding it hard to fight back due to lack of equipment.
Forest guards posted near the Garbhanga Reserve Forest bordering India's Assam and Meghalaya states are facing security threats from timber smugglers.
According to the forest guards in Assam, timber smugglers from neighboring Meghalaya cross over and harass officials and locals in the area.
[D. Rabha, Forest Security Official]:
"The situation is very bad here as they (timber smugglers) might attack us any moment. They use such kind of weapons which do not produce any sound and which we cannot even see, that is, bows and arrows. Also, there are no communication facilities here, like there is no phone connection here."
Forest officials say they're finding it difficult to fight back due to lack of proper equipment.
The miscreants also destroy shops and houses located in nearby areas.
[Hafizur Rahman, Local Teacher]:
"I kept school documents, medicines, certificates and other important papers. Some miscreants from Meghalaya set all of my important assets on fire."
It is estimated that in the last six years, around 40 percent of the forest's trees have been felled.
Large-scale timber smuggling is fast depleting the reserves and playing havoc with the ecosystem.