4/8/15, "India red sandalwood: Questions over 'smuggler' killings," BBC
"Police in India's Andhra Pradesh state are accused of excessive force after killing at least 20 suspected red sandalwood smugglers. Police say they acted in self-defence but human rights groups and politicians want an investigation. BBC Hindi's Imran Qureshi and BBC Tamil's K Muralidharan look at the unanswered questions.
They said when asked to hand over the logs, the woodcutters refused and attacked the police with axes, sticks and stones in two separate areas of the forests. Police say that they fired in self defence.
Red sandalwood or red sanders is a protected species of tree found in the Western Ghats of India. It is grown in at least four districts of Andhra Pradesh. The trees are in short supply and restrictions on exports mean that they fetch thousands of dollars on the international black market. Demand is high in countries such as China and Japan, where the wood is used to make furniture, musical instruments and even toys....
There have been clashes between the police and red sandalwood cutters in the region in the past.
In December 2013, loggers allegedly stoned two forest officials to death in the Seshachalam area. In November 2014, 84 suspected timber smugglers were arrested while cutting trees.
There have been at least seven clashes in recent years - rights groups believe that a number of them were extrajudicial killings. Last year they say at least eight suspected smugglers were killed.
"In many cases the so-called smugglers are poor woodcutters employed by organised gangs," said Amnesty's Abhirr VP.
"The curbing of red sandalwood smuggling must not be used as an excuse to ignore human rights.""