Killed by Veerappan, slain IFS officer’s bust to be set up in Gopinatham

Published on Aug 31, 2022 12:13 AM IST

The officer’s bust will come up around the same temple — he helped to construct — in Gopinatham, where he was serving while on duty in the early 1990s.

The officer constructed Mariamma temple in the village as well as helped in the construction of 40 houses here, said the official. (HT)
The officer constructed Mariamma temple in the village as well as helped in the construction of 40 houses here, said the official. (HT)
ByCoovercolly Indresh, Chamarajanagara

In a tribute to the slain Indian Forest Officer P Srinivas — brutally murdered by notorious forest brigand Veerappan — Gopinatham, a small hamlet on the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will be putting up his statue in the area. Srinivas was one of the first officials to fall prey to the notorious sandalwood smuggler.

The officer’s bust will come up around the same temple — he helped to construct — in Gopinatham, where he was serving while on duty in the early 1990s.

“Every villager in Gopinatham holds Srinivas in high esteem. During the first Arati at the temple, we take his name in reverence first. This ritual happens daily. His portrait has also been set up within the temple premises for worship. Maramma (deity) and Srinivas are the same for us,” temple committee president Mahalingappa said.

He added that Srinivas’s bust would be installed on September 12 which is also his birthday and the event will be “celebrated like a festival and in a grand manner”.

The deputy conservator of forest (DCF) was killed on November 10, 1991 when he along with five other villagers had gone in search of Veerappan. After reaching Erakeyam forest, Veerappan shot at the officer, beheaded him and put his head on a bamboo spear as a warning for other police officials to not enter the region.

Gopinatham in Hanur taluk was a remote village without any real infrastructure until Srinivas came here on his posting as DCF Chamarajanagar and assistant commandant of the special task force (STF) that was formed by the government to nab the killer of hundreds of elephants, said an official in the know of matter, who did not want to be named.

The officer constructed Mariamma temple in the village as well as helped in the construction of 40 houses here, said the official.

The forest officials in Chamarajanagar have also contributed to the bust of Srinivas in the temple.

“On that fateful day (when Srinivas was killed) I was supposed to accompany him to the forest but decided against it. Srinivas along with Arjuna, Muniswamy, Ponnu Swamy , Perumal and Krishna had gone to the forest. Soon after, the team crossed the rivulet, Veerappan who was hiding in the bushes, shot at them,” said Nallur Madaiah, a local resident.

“In the ambush Ponnu Swamy and Perumal fled inside the forest and escaped unhurt but the other three were not so lucky,” Nallur Madaiah, a villager, told HT.

Cauvery wildlife sanctuary, assistant conservator of forests (ACF), N Ankaraju said that he worked with the officer at Gopinatham when Srinivas “was killed by deceit”.

“Veerappan was sending messages through his brother Arjuna to DCF Srinivas that he will surrender, however, he had kept a condition that the DCF should come alone with the five villagers whom he named and he should come unarmed,” said Ankaraju.

“DCF Srinivas was deeply influenced by Acharya Vinoba Bhave and strongly believed that Veerappan could be persuaded to renounce weapons and violence,” he said. “Srinivas used to tell all the official to be careful while dealing with Veerappan but fell for his brother’s deceit,” he said.

The then Chamarajanagara chief conservator of forests (CCF) Manoj Kumar said that a year back, he had participated in a local programme at Gopinatham, where the villagers requested for a metal bust of DCF Srinivas.

“We all donated money for the bust which was carved by architect Hariprasad of Kolar at a cost of around 60,000,” Kumar said.

Previously, in May this year, the jeep used by Srinivas was restored at the cost of 1.1 lakh and displayed in Male Mahadeshwara Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.The slain officer was posthumously awarded the Kirti Chakra, the second-highest peacetime gallantry award on January 26, 1992 for his service.

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