and rise of Veerappan Fact
photos throw light on the kind of life Veerapan leads in his
By Nandini Guha
Has anybody wondered why one of India's most wanted criminals, with
an official murder tally of 120 people, managed to remain invisible
for more than four decades? Why is it that a force dedicated especially
to capture him (STF), has been unable to drag him out from his natural
habitat, the sandalwood forest, in 10 years?
First of all,
the nation and especially the task force, needs to understand that
Veerappan is not a myth. Of course, he remained virtually a mythical
figure until a Nakkeeran reporter, Sivasubramaniam, brought him
to limelight in the early 1990s. Ironically, the Tamil Nadu and
Karnataka police did not even have the latest photograph of Veerappan
until Nakkeeran broke the story. A lot has happened since then,
but the bandit remains elusive to the police but visible to the
local tribes who have nourished his ‘Robin Hood’ image.
is recorded or written about the brigand's early childhood or family
background. All that is known is that he was born into a poor and
backward Tamil-speaking Padayachi family. The village was Gopinatham
in the Kollegal taluk of Karnataka, bordering Tamil Nadu. Since
Gopinatham is set in the mountainous forest region, Veerappan was
a natural in the jungles that would become his habitat for the rest
of his life.
It is not known
how he took to the life of crime. Locals say that he was inspired
by Malayur Mammattiyan, a notorious bandit of the 1950s and 60s,
who hailed from Salem, close to Veerappan's native village. Veerappan's
first recorded murder was that of Paramasivam, brother of Karuppan
who killed Malayur Mammattiyan in an inter-gang war. However, Veerappan
came into prominence only after he killed Tamil Nadu forest officer
Chidambaram in July 1987. Apparently, Chidambaram was killed because
he was an honest forest officer who sought to end sandalwood smuggling.
It seems logical
that Veerappan took to sandalwood smuggling and poaching much earlier,
probably in the late 1970s, as he was arrested sometime in 1986
by the Karnataka police and lodged in Mysore jail. This is the only
time Veerappan has ever been in custody.
crime graph shows that initially he targetted only forest officials
who came in the way. They included Karnataka Deputy Conservator
of Forests P Srinivas who believed that he could reform the brigand.
Veerappan lured him into the forest on the offer of surrender and
shot him dead. He left his severed head on a rock to serve as a
warning to others. Some local sources say that Srinivas got too
close to Veerappan and was also involved with his sister.
brutal murder of Srinivas, the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka Governments
constituted the Special Task Forces in May 1990. From then on, it
has been a long battle between the Veerappan gang and the police
in which more than 100 persons have been killed by the bandit, at
least half of them police personnel.
Veerappan was on the run from 1991 to 96, when the Tamil Nadu STF
was headed by Additional Director General of Police Walter Dawaram,
known to be a ruthless cop. It was also the period when several
innocent tribals were tortured, detained illegally or under TADA
or shot dead in fake encounters on charges of supplying ration and
extending such other help to Veerappan.
That was when
Veerappan turned to quarry owners on both sides of the border for
help. The quarry owners had no choice but to cough up "protection
money". Apparently, they also supplied explosives with which
Veerappan ambushed Tamil Nadu police patrols.
that during that period, the STF reduced Veerappan gang's strength
from 150 to eight. Many find it hard to believe that Veerappan was
moving about with such a large entourage and yet was invisible to
the police. But the fact remains that Veerappan felt the heat thanks
to sustained STF operations and frequent encounters....more