18 January 1952|
Gopinatham, Mysore State, India
|Died||18 October 2004
Papparapatti, Tamil Nadu, India
|Cause of death||Firearm|
|Resting place||Moolakadu, Tamil Nadu|
|Known for||Sandalwood smuggling, poaching, killing police and evading them|
|Spouse(s)||Muthulakshmi (m. 1990)|
Koose Munisamy Veerappa Gounder (18 January 1952 – 18 October 2004), commonly known only as Veerappan, was a notorious Indian brigand and dacoit. He was active for nearly 30 years in the scrub lands and forests in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Veerappan was born in a Tamil Vanniyar Gounder family. He married Muthulakshmi who reportedly married him because of his "notoriety and moustache." As of 2004, his two daughters, Vidya Rani (born in 1990) and Prabha (born in 1993), were studying in Tamil Nadu.
Veerappan started as an assistant to his relative Saalvai Gounder, a notorious poacher and sandalwood smuggler. His father and relatives, whose village lay in the forest area, were also known to be poachers and smugglers. Veerappan began his career in crime in 1970 and was first arrested in 1972.
Veerappan initially developed as a sandalwood and ivory smuggler, killing elephants for the latter. He later started killing those who resisted his activities. He committed his first murder at the age of 17 and his victims tended to be police officers, forest officials, and informants.
In 1987, Veerappan kidnapped and murdered a forest officer named Chidambaram from Tamil Nadu. This first brought him to the Indian Government's attention. Among his best-known killings are a senior IFS officer named Pandillapalli Srinivas in November 1991, and an ambush of a police party including a senior IPS officer, Harikrishna, among others, in August 1992.
Veerappan was not averse to killing civilians, and killed a man from his native village for having once travelled in a police jeep. He regularly killed anyone suspected of being a police informer. Because of political instability, Veerappan could easily escape from one state to another. State jurisdiction problems also prevented police officers from entering other states to apprehend Veerappan.
In Govindapadi, Mettur, Veerappan killed a Bandari person whom he suspected of being a police informer. As a result, a 41-member team of police officers and forestry officials were called in to investigate. On 9 April 1993, landmines were detonated underneath the two vehicles in which the team was travelling. The blast occurred at Palar, near Malai Mahadeswara Hills (present-day Chamarajanagar District, Karnataka) and killed 22 members of the team. Known as the Palar blast, this was Veerappan's single largest mass killing.
Special Task Force
In 1992, the Karnataka and the Tamil Nadu Governments formed a Special Task Force to catch Veerappan. It was headed in Tamil Nadu by Sanjay Arora and in Karnataka by Shankar Bidri with Walter Devaram as the joint chief. In February 1992, his lieutenant Gurunathan was killed by the Karnataka task force, with SI Shakeel Ahmed single-handedly responsible for the capture. Three months later, Veerappan attacked the Ramapura police station in the Chamarajanagar district in Karnataka, killing several policemen and capturing arms and ammunition. In August 1992, Veerappan laid a trap for SI Shakeel Ahmed, killing him along with five others. The Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Special Task Forces then began intensified combing operations along the two states’ border areas and also around Gopinatham village, Veerappan's birthplace.
Through these operations, under charge of Sanjay Arora and Shankar Bidari, the gang was reduced to 5 members. Meetings with Gopinatham villagers were held, and the 5-crore bounty was announced. In 1993, the task force arrested Veerappan's wife, Muthulakshmi, and charged her with aiding, but she was acquitted of all charges.
Kidnap of Rajkumar
On 30 July 2000, Veerappan kidnapped actor Rajkumar and three others from Dodda Gajanur, a village in Erode district near the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border where the film star was attending his housewarming ceremony. Public outcry and violence ensued in Bangalore as well as other parts of Karnataka. A bandh, or strike, also occurred on 22 September in Bangalore. Karnataka's Chief Minister and police personnel sought the help of Tamil Nadu Government and visited Chennai seeking help. Negotiations were conducted and R. Gopal, an editor of the Tamil magazine Nakkeeran, was involved in several rounds of talks with Veerappan. Gopal had earlier visited Veerappan for similar negotiations, and visited the forest several times for videotaped discussions. Veerappan demanded justice for Tamil Nadu in the Cauvery Water dispute, as well as making Tamil the second official language of Karnataka and the release of certain Tamil extremists jailed in Tamil Nadu. Rajkumar was held for 108 days and finally released without harm in November 2000. A police official later suggested that 200 million rupees had been paid by Karnataka government for his release.
Kidnap of Nagappa
On 25 August 2002, Veerappan abducted H. Nagappa, a former minister of Karnataka, from his village house in Chamarajanagar district. Nagappa had been a minister for Agricultural Marketing from 1996 to 1999. The Joint Special task forces of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu worked with the Kerala police to help release Nagappa. An encounter to release him failed, and Nagappa was found dead three months later in a Karnataka forest. The reward offered by the Karnataka state government was then increased to 500 million rupees.
For several years during the 1990s, Veerappan kidnapped police officials and other personalities and demanded ransom money. It is believed that ransoms were often unofficially paid. In July 1997, he kidnapped nine forest officials in the Burude forests in Chamarajanagar district. In that case, the hostages were released unharmed a few weeks later even though his ransom demand was not met. It is also believed that Veerappan buried large amounts of money in various parts of the forest, and in 2002 police recovered 3.3 million rupees from his gang members.
During his later years, Veerappan got political support from Tamil nationalist organisations like Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a political party predominantly of the Vanniyar caste to which Veerappan belonged. Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was a known sympathiser of Veerappan and his aides, and demanded the removal of the death penalty for four of Veerappan's aides as soon the sentence was given to them in 2013. Karunanidhi also extended 31 October 1997 deadline for Veerappan's surrender and postponed Special Task Force (STF) police action by few days saying, "it is not far too late for Veerappan to surrender". Banned organisations like the Tamil National Retrieval Troops (TNRT) and Tamil Nadu Liberation Army (TNLA, a front in Tamil Nadu for LTTE) helped Veerappan to secure a Robin Hood image and to draft terms of negotiations when he kidnapped prominent people. Kolathur Mani, president of Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam, formerly the Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (PDK) party, supported Veerappan and was booked by police as an accomplice in several of Veerappan's crimes.
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 gunfight.
Several human rights outfits, which rallied under the banner of the Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties (CPCL), claimed that circumstantial evidence indicated that Veerappan was murdered by police after being tortured. Since Veerappan's death, Gopinatham 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 were more attached to it and most of his relatives in Gopinatham had left. The police had planned a cremation but decided on a burial after objections from Veerappan's relatives. Thousands of people turned out for the burial, while others were kept away by heavy security.
|1962||Veerappan's first crime. He was just 10 when he guns down a tusker with the help of his Guru Sevi Gounder at Gopinatham. Nabs three forest officials and kills them.|
|1970||Joined a gang of poachers.|
|27 August 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 he 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).|
|26 August 1986||Killed Siddarama Naik, a forest watcher at Alegowdana Katte, Gundlupet, Karnataka.|
|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.|
|9 April 1990||Killed three police SI Dinesh, Jagannath, Ramalingu and police constable Shankara Rao near Hogenakal. 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 quarry owner and demanded ransom of Rs. 10 million; released him for a ransom of Rs. 1.5 million.|
|1992||Attacked a police station in Ramapura, killing five policemen, injuring two and stealing arms and ammunition. STF killed two gang members in retaliation.|
|14 August 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.|
|25 January 1993||Veerappan and his gang had a close encounter and missed by a 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.|
|April 1993||Trapped and blew a Tamil Nadu bus carrying police, forest officials and civilians, using a landmine, which killed 22 civilians and police in Palar blast incident.|
|24 May 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 108 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.|
Film and television
- Killing Veerappan – a 2016 Kannada film, written and directed by Ram Gopal Varma based on Operation Cocoon, the film received positive reviews from critics.
- Veerappan – a 2016 Hindi full length biographical feature film written and directed by Ram Gopal Varma.
- Jungle – a Ram Gopal Varma film loosely based on slain bandit Veerappan
- Captain Prabhakaran a Tamil film loosely based on the bandit.
- 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.
- Makkal TV aired a TV serial based on Veerappan's life called Sandhanakaadu starring Karate Raja as Veerappan.
- Veerappan: India’s Most Wanted Man by Sunaad Raghuram. The film Let’s Kill Veerappan is based on a chapter in this book.
- “Sereyalli Kaleda Hadinalku Dinagalu”, a Kannada Novel, later translated to Birds, Beasts and Bandits: 14 days with Veerappan is a book written by Krupakar and Senani, who were kidnapped by Veerappan in 1998.
- Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand by K. Vijay Kumar. This is a summary of the long hunt for Veerappan, and the final successful Operation Cocoon. It’s written by the police officer who led the STF during the last phase of the hunt.
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