|Koose Muniswamy Veerappan |
January 18, 1952|
|Died||October 18, 2004
Papparapatti, Tamil Nadu
|Resting place||Moolakadu, Tamil Nadu.|
Koose Muniswamy Veerappan (January 18, 1952 – October 18, 2004), commonly known as Veerappan or Sandalwood Veerappan, was an Indian dacoit active for years in a broad swath of scrub and forest land covering 6,000 km² in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. He defied three state governments and Indian Border security paramilitary forces, maintaining at one point a small army numbering in the hundreds. He was wanted for killing approximately 184 people, mainly police officers (about 50% of total killings) including senior police and forest officials. He was wanted by the police forces of three states - Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala - for several decades. He was wanted for poaching about 200 elephants and smuggling ivory worth US$2,600,000 and sandalwood of about 10,000 tonnes worth US$22,000,000. Veerappan had a price of 5 crore (US$920,000) on his head but evaded arrest for 20 years until he was killed by police in 2004.
Early years 
Koose Muniswamy Veerappan, who was also known as Veerappan, was born on January 18, 1952 in Gopinatham village, Karnataka, to a Tamil-speaking Padayachi family of cattle-grazers. He was commonly known as "Molakai" while a child and came from the Vanniyar caste. Veerappan was inspired by Maleyur Mammattiyan, a notorious bandit from Mecheri, Salem district who was active during the 1950s and 1960s. Mammattiyan was killed in an inter-gang fight and the brother of his killer became Veerappan's first murder victim.
Family life 
He married Muthulakshmi and is said to have strangled one of their children soon after birth because she was the third successive girl born to the couple. His wife reportedly appreciated his "notoriety and mustache" and married him for that reason. His two other daughters are studying in Tamil Nadu.
Criminal activity 
Veerappan started as an assistant to Xavier Gounder, a relation who was a notorious poacher and sandalwood smuggler also known as Sevi Gounder. His father, Muniswamy, and his relatives, whose village lay in the forest area, were also known to have been involved in illegal activities such as poaching and the smuggling of forest wood and sandalwood. Veerappan began his career in crime in 1970 and was arrested for the first time in 1972. He started to develop as a sandalwood smuggler and ivory smuggler. He killed elephants for ivory, shooting his first tusker when he was 10 years old. Later, he developed the habit of killing people who opposed his illegal activities. His first murder was committed when he was 17 and most of his victims were police officers, forest officials, and informers.
The attention of the government was drawn to Veerappan when he kidnapped and murdered a Tamil Nadu forest officer, Chidambaram, in 1987. He trapped and brutally killed a senior Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, Pandillapalli Srinivas, on November 10, 1991 in the Namadalli forests of Kollegal taluk in Chamarajanagar district. He also killed Harikrishna, a senior IPS officer, Shakeel Ahmed, with others on August 14, 1992 near Meenyam of Kollegal taluk by ambushing the police party in a raid. Veerappan never hesitated to kill civilians for the slightest of reasons. He killed Kottinaiker, who lived in Veerappan's native village, for having once travelled in a police jeep. Whenever he thought that a person was a police informer, he would kill them. Veerappan took advantage of political instability to escape from one state to other regularly.
Palar blast 
Veerappan killed a Bandari in Govindapadi, Mettur, on the pretext that he was a police informer, and this had led to the involvement of a 41-member team comprising police and forestry officials. On April 9, 1993, this team was leaving their base in Palar, near Malai Mahadeswara Hills, Karnataka, in two vehicles when Veerappan's gang detonated a land mine, killing 22 of the vehicle occupants. Known as the Palar blast, this is the single largest mass killing attributed to him.
Special Task Force 
In 1990, the Karnataka and the Tamil Nadu Governments formed a Special Task Force to nab Verappan. In February 1992, the Karnataka task force killed his lieutenant Gurunathan. SI Shakeel Ahmed was single-handedly responsible for Gurunathan's capture. Three months later, Veerappan attacked the Ramapura police station of Kollegal taluk in the Chamarajanagar district, killing several policemen and capturing arms and ammunition, on the pretext that they tortured a lady which resulted in her suicide. In August 1992, Veerappan laid a trap for SP Harikrishna and SI Shakeel Ahmed and killed them along with four others. The Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Special Task Forces started intensfied combing operations along the inter-state border areas of the two states and also around Gopinatham village. The combined STF checked all the vehicles passing in the area and kept vigil in the forests bordering the two states. They came to know that Veerappan's gang was reduced to only five members, one of them being a TNLA activist. STF officers from both the states held meetings with villagers of the Gopinatham village and requested them to help nab Veerappan and also offered Rs.5 crore prize money to be used for development of the village.
In the evening of February 17, 1996, he ambushed a team of Tamil Nadu STF personnel from a high ground while they were in their patrol vehicle. The victims counter-attacked and called for backup but Veerappan and his colleagues had gone by the time that support arrived. One police constable died in the incident and others were seriously injured.
The arrival of Shankar Bidari, a Karnataka police officer, as the first full-time commander of the STF was significant. Bidari divided the force into three units - attacking, investigation and intelligence - and during his tenure between February 1993 and June 1996, the manpower available to Veerappan was reduced from a large number to just six people.
Kidnap of Rajkumar 
On July 30, 2000, Veerappan kidnapped the famed Kannada matinee idol Rajkumar, from Gajanur or Thottagajanur near Thalavadi in Erode District, Tamil Nadu, a village bordering Karnataka state, where the film star was attending a housewarming ceremony. Three associates of Dr. Rajkumar were kidnapped as well, one of them being a relative of the film star. There was a huge public outcry and some violent incidents in Bangalore and other parts of Karnataka. A bandh occurred on September 22 in Bangalore. This placed the Karnataka government in a political dilemma of whether or not to call in the army. Violence across the state and slogans against the government became very normal. The Chief Minister and police personnel of Karnataka sought the help of Tamil Nadu Government and visited Chennai for seeking help. Negotiations were conducted and R. Gopal, also known as "nakkeran gopalan", an editor of a Tamil magazine called "Nakkeeran" was involved in several rounds of talks with Veerappan. The "Nakkeran" Gopalan, who had earlier visited Veerappan for similar negotiations, visited the forest several times where Veerappan held Dr.Rajkumar and had discussions which were video recorded. Veerappan demanded justice for Tamil Nadu in Cauvery Water dispute, making Tamil as second official language in Karnataka, helping the poor and releasing of certain Tamil extremists jailed in Tamil Nadu. Dr. Rajkumar was held for 109 days and was finally released without harm on November 15, 2000. There were allegations by several people that a large amount was paid to Veerappan for his safe release. A police official later suggested that 300,000,000 rupees ($6.5m) had been paid for his release.
On August 25, 2002, Veerappan abducted H. Nagappa, a former minister of Karnataka State from his village house in Chamarajanagara District. Nagappa was a minister for Agricultural Marketing in J.H.Patel's ministry. Joint Special task force of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu requested Kerala police for cooperation and help to release H.Nagappa. Police tried to release H.Nagappa in an encounter and Nagappa was found dead three months later, in Chengadi forest near his ancestral house in Karnataka. The reward offered by the Karnataka state government was increased to 5,00,00,000rupees (US$1.25 million) at that time.
Ransom demands 
For several years during 1990s, he was very active in kidnapping police officials and famous personalities, and would demand huge amounts of money for ransom. It is believed that ransoms were often paid unofficially for the release of hostages. On July 12, 1997, he kidnapped nine forest officials at Marapala in the Burude forests of Kollegala taluk, in Chamarajanagara district. In this case, even though his ransom demands were not met, the hostages were released unharmed in the last week of August that same year. It is believed that Veerappan buried large amount of cash in various parts of the forest and in 2002, police recovered Rs.33,66,350 from members of his gang, some of whom were unaware of how much money they actually held.
Political support 
During later years, Veerappan got political support from Tamil Nationalist organisations like Pattali Makkal Katchi, a predominantly Venniar party, to which caste he belongs. Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi of DMK, is a known sympathiser of Veerappan and his aides and Karunanidhi demanded for abolishing death penalty as soon as such punishment was awarded to four aides of Veerappan in 2013. Mr. Karunanidhi also extended the deadline of October 31, 2007 for Veerappan's surrender and postponed STF police action by few days and said "it is not far too late for Veerappan to surrender". Banned organisations like The Tamil National Retrieval Troups (TNRT) and Tamil Nadu Liberation Army (TNLA)(which was a front in Tamil Nadu for LTTE) helped Veerappan to secure a "Robinhood" image, to develop an ideological conflumage and to draft terms of negotiations when he kidnapped prominent people. Kolathur Mani, president of Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam, formerly Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam party supported Veerappan and he was booked by police as co-accused in several crimes committed by Veerappan including Palar blast case.
On October 18, 2004, Veerappan and two of his associates were killed by the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force headed by K. Vijay Kumar. The killing happened near the village of Papparapatti in Dharmapuri district, Tamil Nadu. Veerappan and his men were lured into an ambulance by an undercover policeman under the pretext of taking them to Dharmapuri for medical treatment. The Tamil Nadu Special Task Force, which had been observing his movements for several months, surrounded the ambulance, and the gangsters were killed in the ensuing gun battle. The entire operation was named "Operation Cocoon" and his associates Sethukuli Govinda, Chandre Gowda and Sethumani were also killed in the operation. His death was described as the "death of a demon" by Guardian newspaper, UK. The villagers of Gopinatham, the native place of Veerappan, breathed a huge sigh of relief and burst crackers on the streets of the village on hearing the news of his death, as they wanted to wash out the stigma attached to their village. Since his death, the village has been promoted as a destination for ecotourism by the Karnataka State Department of Forest and Tourism.
Veerappan was buried at a village named Moolakadu, Tamil Nadu as his family members are more attached to it and most of his relatives in Gopinatham (his native place) have left long ago and one of his aides, Sethukuli Govindan was cremated there. The police had planned for a cremation, but decided on a burial due to objections rasied by Veerappan's relatives. Thousands of people turned out for the burial, while others were kept away by heavy security.
Timeline of Veerappan's activities:
- 1970: Joined a gang of poachers.
- August 27, 1983 : Killed K.M.Prithvi, (25) forest guard near Mavukal, Ponnampet, Kodagu, Karnataka when the guard tried to prevent elephant poaching by the gang and this was the first forest official killed by Veerappan.
- 1986: Arrested and lodged at Boodipada forest guest house but escaped under mysterious circumstances (reportedly bribed a police officer).
- August 26, 1986 : Killed Siddarama Naik, a forest watcher at Alegowdana Katte, Gundlupet, Karntaka.
- 1987: Kidnapped and hacked Tamil Nadu forest officer Chidambaram. Kidnapped and killed 5 members of a rival gang.
- 1989: Killed three forest personnel after 15 days of abducting them from Begur forest range.
- April 9, 1990: Killed three police SI Dinesh, Jagannath, Ramalingu and police constable Shankara Rao near Hogenakal. The Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments constitute Special Task Force (STF) to catch Veerappan. Shot and beheaded Karnataka deputy conservator of forests, Srinivas, as revenge for Veerappan's sister Mala's suicide (the victim's head was traced three years later).
- 1991: Abducted son of a granite quary owner and demanded ransom of Rs.1 crore; released him for a ransom of Rs.15 lakhs.
- 1992: Attacked a police station in Ramapura, killing five policemen, injuring two and stealing arms and ammunition. STF killed two gang members in retaliation.
- August 14, 1992: Trapped and killed Mysore District SP, T.Harikrishna, SI Shakeel Ahmed and four constables named Benegonda, C.M.Kalappa, Sundara and M.P.Appachu, through a false informant near Meenyam in Karnataka.
- January 25, 1993: Veerappan and his gang had a close encounter and missed by whisker the police team headed by "Rambo" Gopalakrishnan, Police officer from Tamil Nadu; one of his gang members and close associate Antony Raj was gunned down.
- 1993: Border Security force (BSF) was deployed to hunt Veerappan but it felt that language was main barrier to carry out successful operation. Deployment of Border Security Force (of Central Government) was disliked by Tamil Nadu Government. Veerappan killed about 20 combatants of BSF.
- 1993: April : Trapped and blew a Tamil Nadu bus carrying police, forest officials and civilians, using a landmine, which killed 22 civilians and police and this incident is known as Palar blast.
- May 24, 1993: Killed 6 policemen K.M.Uthappa, Prabhakara, Poovaiah, Machaiah, Swamy and Narasappa of STF commander Gopal Hosur's party and injured the police commander near Rangaswamy vaddu, M.M.Hills, Karnataka. Tamil Nadu government deploys Border Security Force (BSF). Joint operations of BSF and STF arrested 9 gang members and killed 6. Three policemen were killed. Veerappan requested amnesty. Victim's relatives opposed any type of government negotiations.
- 1994: Abducted Chidambaranathan, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Coimbatore and two others.
- 1995: In November, kidnapped three forest department officials of Tamil Nadu.
- 1996: Killed a police informer. Killed another 19 police personnel. Wounded police official Tamilselvan and killed a constable as revenge for the suicide of Veerappan's brother Arjunan in police custody.
- 1997: The gang kidnapped wildlife photographers Senani and Krupakar. Veerappan apparently killed 'Baby Veerappan', a gang member, who had visions to succeed Veerappan. Kidnapped and released another photographers Senani and Krupakar. Kidnapped and executed nine Karnataka forest officials from Burude forests.
- 1998: Kidnapped Prof.Krishnasamy, A.S.Mani - editor "Netikan", Payumpuli — reporter and Richard Mohan — photographer. Special Task Force released them after combing operation.
- 2000: Kidnapped Kannada film actor Dr. Rajkumar. Released him after 109 days (ransomed).
- 2002: Kidnapped and allegedly killed former Karnataka minister H. Nagappa. There are other sources, including police of Karnataka who claim that the bullet in the body of the former minister was from a rifle used by the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (possibly the rifle used was stolen from Tamil Nadu task force or cross fire could have caused his death).
- 2004: Killed by Tamil Nadu Special Task Force members at a checkpost, when the bandit was travelling in an ambulance driven by disguised policeman as driver.
Total killings 
More than 184 killings, including civilians, forest officials, police personnel and foreign research student are officially recorded.
Media Usage 
Film and television 
- Jungle: a Ram Gopal Varma film on slain bandit Veerappan
- There were scores of regional films in Tamil and Kannada with Veerappan as its antagonist like the Tamil movie Captain Prabhakaran and Kannada movie Veerappan, all of which were super hits.
- Makkal TV aired a TV serial based on Veerappan's life called Sandhanakaadu (means sandalwood forest in Tamil). Karate Raja played Veerappan and Goutham directed the serial. The serial shed some light on the other side of Veerapan as well as their own version of how Veerapan was killed by poisoning.
- The Malayalam actor Mamukkoya did the title role in the comedy film Korappan, The Great (2001). This film was just a satire and has no connection with the original person
- The character of Veeraiya (played by Vikram) in the Tamil film Raavanan (2010) (Raavan in Hindi) resembles strongly the life of Veerappan.
- The 2012 dual-language film - Attahasa in Kannada and as Vana Yuddham in Tamil is based on the life of Veerappan whose character is played by Kishore.
- Veerappan: India's Most Wanted Man by Sunaad Raghuram. The film Let's Kill Veerappan is based on a chapter in this book.
- Birds, Beasts and Bandits: 14 days with Veerappan is a book written by Krupakar and Senani, who were kidnapped by Veerappan in 1997.
- Veerappan, the untold story
See also 
- "Veerappan". nndb.com.
- Oliver, Mark. "Death of a 'demon'". The Guardian.
- "Bandit's footprints". The Economic Times. TNN. October 19, 2004. Retrieved December 11, 2012.
- "Veerappan - The Man Behind 120 Murders: HindustanTimes.com Special". Hindustantimes.com. Retrieved September 19, 2010.
- timesofindia, com. (October 19, 2004). "How Veerappan was shot dead". The Times of India. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- "Police kill India's 'Robin Hood' - Oct 18, 2004". CNN.com. October 19, 2004. Retrieved September 19, 2010.
- Guha, Nandini (2002). "The rise and rise of Veerappan". Hindustan Times. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
- Harding, Luke (August 5, 2000). "In the lair of India's asthmatic bandit king". London: Guardian. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Illangovan, R (22 October 2004). "Leave us in peace, say Veerappan's daughters". The Hindu. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
- R, Ilangovan (October 20, 2004). "A relieved Gopinatham breathes easy". The Hindu. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
- "Veerappan : End of three decades of terror". Coimbatore: The Times of India. October 19, 2004. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- Estevez, Benita. Smugglers. R.W.Press. ISBN 9781909284081. Retrieved February 22, 2013.
- Aravind, H M (February 14, 2013). "Why Veerappan planned the Palar blast". The Times of India. Retrieved February 17, 2013.
- V.S., Palaniyappan (January 27, 2003). "STF planning to corner Veerappan near Gopinatham". The Hindu.
- Times Net work (January 28, 2003). "STF tries to lure villagers". The Times of India. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
- Shiva Kumar, M T (April 26, 2011). "Muthulakshmi to bring out book on ‘police atrocities'". The Hindu. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Subrahmanya, K.V. (October 20, 2004). "Police had 15 encounters with brigand". The Hindu. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
- "Veerappan's widow Muthulakshmi acquitted in actor Rajkumar kidnap case". India Today. October 30, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- "'Treasure hunt' for bandit's loot". BBC News. October 22, 2004. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
- Ravi, Sharma (August 5–18, 2000). "Veerappan's Prize Catch". Frontline Magazine, Chennai. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- "I have tried to be as truthful as possible". The Hindu. August 24, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
- Nambath, Suresh (October 20, 2004). "Veerappan as "Robin Hood"". The Hindu. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- News archives of Dr.Rajkumar kidnap incident
- . August 26, 2002 http://expressindia.indianexpress.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=14148. Retrieved 22 Februar 2013. Missing or empty
- PTI (August 28, 2002). "Kerala Police to help STF in operation against Veerappan". The Times of India. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- "How Veerappan was shot dead". The Times of India. October 19, 2004. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- K.T., Sangameswaran (October 21, 2004). "`Ransoms' remain a mystery". The Hindu. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
- Nambath, Suresh (October 31, 2004). "Jungle Drama". The Hindu. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- Nairita (February 18, 2013). "Death Penalty:Why DMK chief seeks Karuna for Veerappan aides". One India news. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- Subramanian, T.S. (November 15–28, 1997). "Back to an offencive". Frontline. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- TNN (August 19, 2012). "Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (PDK) splits into two parties". The Times of India. Retrieved March 1 2013.
- M.B.Maramkal, Bansy Kalappa (October 20, 2004). "Veerappan Brigand's last run". The Times of India. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- V, Paneesha (May 14, 2011). "Have fun in Veerappan territory". The Hindu. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
- R, Illangovan (October 21, 2004). "Veerappan buried after wrangling". The Hindu. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- Independent: Koose Muniswamy Veerappan: The Bandit King
- Dinakar, C (2003). Veerappan's prize catch : Rajkumar. Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt ltd. p. 145. ISBN 9788122006445.
- N. R. Madhava Menon,, D. Banerjea (2001). Criminal Justice, India serice, Vol.16 16. New Delhi: Allied Publishers. p. 146,147. ISBN 9788177645194.
- Reporter, Staff (April 29, 2009.). ""Nakeeran" Gopal acquitted". The Hindu. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- "Film on slain bandit Veerappan". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. June 16, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2010.
- "Window2india". Window2india. Retrieved September 19, 2010.