photos throw light on the kind of life Veerapan leads in his
Veerappan turned to hostage-taking
in December 1994.The first victim was a deputy superintendent of
police in Coimbatore district, Chidambaranathan. Veerappan seized
him during a visit to his farmhouse in Sirumugai. The compelling
reason for this was not just to press for amnesty, which of course
Veerappan did, but to get urgent medical aid for his brother Arjunan,
who was wounded in an encounter.
Arjunan was allowed to
come out, given treatment and detained after the hostage crisis
ended with a police raid. Arjunan and two other gang members were
reportedly bumped off while being transported to Mysore. The police
version is they committed suicide by consuming cyanide.
Veerappan took hostages
on two more occasions in 1997 to press for general amnesty, but
eventually released them unconditionally and unharmed. The DMK,
which was in power from 1996 to 2001, was known for being sympathetic
to him but obviously could not give into his demand for amnesty.
It was Dr Rajkumar's
abduction in July 2000 which got him national attention. For the
first time, it became known that Veerappan had included in his gang
members of two dreaded Tamil extremist outfits, the Tamil Nadu Liberation
Army and the Tamil National Retrieval Troops, both modeled on the
The nexus came to police
notice when Veerappan and members of these two gangs launched a
joint attack on a police station near Sathyamangalam in December
But they kept it a closely
guarded secret. The nexus came to light when Rajkumar was abducted.
Of course Veerappan had to release Rajkumar eventually when it became
apparent that the two Governments would resume combing operations.
Two major demands put forward by Veerappan concerned the release
of five TNLA and TNRT extremists in Tamil Nadu jails and 51 TADA
detenus in Mysore jail. The extremists are still in jail. But the
TADA detenus have since been released by the Mysore sessions court.
he get caught?
Now Veerappan has struck
again. Can he ever be caught? The chances are slim. He operates
in a 6,000 sq km jungle. His survival instinct is strong. He has
been known to be ruthless with his own community if anyone was known
to help the police. At the same time, he has been generous with
money to those who help him. As a result, he has acquired a Robin
Hood image which the police find hard to fight.
While the police have
all the latest gadgets, including AK-47 assault rifles and night
vision binoculors, Veerappan still carries old hunting rifles. Though
in his mid-50s, Veerappan is still physically active. He is constantly
on the move, sometimes walking 40 kms a day. The jungle is so thick
in some places that the visibility will be hardly 30 ft during daytime.
He always pitches camp, for lunch or dinner, at a place which gives
him a commanding height.
And finally, his information
network has proved to be far more faster and reliable than the police's.
He has struck twice in the same place, abducting Nagappa just a
little over two years after seizing Rajkumar. And choosing the day
when Rajkumar is on a visit to his farm house near Kollegal, the
first since his abduction from there, and all police force is concentrated
on the actor.
As always with Veerappan, it is a question of chance.