Koose Muniswamy Veerappan
) was a notorious bandit
who operated on Tamil
political and LTTE
support . He resided and carried out his activities in the Biligirirangana Betta
and Male Mahadeshwara Betta (Hills)
and Gundiyal forests
, covering 6,000 km² in the states of Karnataka
and Tamil Nadu
. He challenged three state governments and the paramilitary
force of Indian Border security
. He once had a mini army with hundreds of armed members in his gang. He was wanted for killing about 184 people, including senior police and forest officials, poaching about 200 elephants
, and smuggling ivory
worth US$2,600,000 and sandalwood
of about 10,000 tonnes worth US$22,000,000. He had a price of Rs.
50 million (Rs. 5 crore
or US$1.1 million) on his head, but evaded arrest for 20 years until he was killed by police in 2004.
Koose Muniswamy Veerappan alias Veerappan was born at 08:17 hrs (IST) on January 18, 1952 in Gopinatham village in Karnataka to a family of cattle-grazers. He was commonly known as "Molakai" in his childhood days by the locals.
His gang of forty members indulged in killing and kidnapping, taking revenge for what the government officials have done to the Local people who lived near the forest. Most of his victims were police and forest officials and informers and movie stars. He felt the police were responsible for the suicides of his sister Mala and brother Arjunan. He was also known for his kidnapping of prominent people to make demands, starting with a forest official in 1987. He trapped and brutally killed a senior forest officer Mr. P. Srinivas IFS on November 10, 1991 in Namadalli forests of Kollegal taluk in Chamarajanagr district. He also killed Mr. Harikrishna IPS, senior Police officer,SI Mr. Shakeel Ahmed, along with others on August 14, 1992 near Meenyam of Kollegal taluk by ambushing the police party going for a raid.
He married Muthulakshmi, in 1991. He had three daughters, Yuvarani, Prabha and another, whom he allegedly strangled to death.
Robin Hood image
Veerappan had a Robin Hood
like image among the villagers adjoining his native village Gopinatham. Sympathetic villagers are said to have acted as cover to his activities and informed him of police
activities. They also provided food and clothing to the gang. However, it has been suggested that the villagers helped him out of fear of reprisal, and that Veerappan helped the villagers with money only to protect himself from being captured. He was very ruthless to villagers who provided the police with information.
He was arrested in 1986, but escaped. According to wildlife photographer Krupakar, who was once kidnapped by the bandit, he paid a bribe of (Rs. 100,000, about US$3,000) to a policeman to help him escape. Many have said that Veerappan's mimicry of birds and deer helped him evade capture. He regularly made his communications to the government through emissary R.R. Gopal, requesting amnesty.
Special task force
In 1990, the Karnataka government formed a Special Task Force
to capture him and put an end to the menace. Soon after, the task force captured several of Veerappan's men. In February 1992, the special task force killed his lieutenant Gurunathan
Shakeel Ahmed, a dynamic police officer, 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. In August 1992, Veerappan laid a trap for SP Harikrishna and SI Shakeel Ahmed and killed them along with four others.
In 1993, the task force arrested his wife Muthulakshmi. In July 1993, he reportedly strangled his infant daughter, fearing the child's cry would get him caught.
On Feb 17, 1996, he ambushed a team of Tamil Nadu STF personnel from a high ground while they were on their patrol vehicle. The police were able to counter attack and called for backup. The ambush which took place in the evening claimed the life of a Police Constable named Selvaraj from Madurai and seriously injured other police officers including Police officer Tamilselvan. By the time the Karnataka police arrived the bandit and his crew fled.
On July 12, 1997, he kidnapped nine forest officials at a place called Marapala in Burude forests of Kollegala taluk of Chamarajanagara district. He made demands for releasing them, including amnesty, but none were met. The hostages were released without being harmed in the last week of August the same year.
On July 30, 2000 Veerappan kidnapped popular Kannada film actor Dr. Rajkumar from his ancestral home. This event put the Karnataka government in a political dilemma of whether or not to call in the army. The decision was reached that to do so would set a poor precedent. Rajkumar was released without harm on November 15, 2000, after 109 days in captivity. There are allegations by several people including Jayalalithaa that about 500,000,000 rupees were paid to Veerappan for releasing Rajkumar.
On August 25, 2002 Veerappan abducted H. Nagappa, a former state minister. Nagappa was found dead in the forest three months later. The reward offered by the Karnataka state government was increased to 50,000,000 rupees (US $1.25 million).
Veerappan attended the Bannari Amman Kovil
temple regularly and was known to be a strong devotee to Kali
a Goddess in Hinduism. It is also said that he built a Kali
temple. Veerappan belonged to the Vanniar caste
. Some people of Pattali Makkal Katchi
(PMK), or Working People's Party, which is based on that Vanniar
caste, hoisted half-mast flag of their party on the death of Veerappan.
On October 18
, following a tip-off, Veerappan and two associates were allegedly killed after being arrested by Tamil Nadu State Special Task Force
headed by the Additional Director-General of Police, K. Vijay Kumar,Superintendent of Police Sentamarai Kannan and Additional Superintendent of Police F.M.Hussain, near the village of Papparapatti
district, Tamil Nadu. His third associate managed to escape. However, the next day his widow claimed that he had been arrested a few days earlier, interrogated and killed by the police (Veerappan had repeatedly threatened, if ever brought to trial, to point a finger at every policemen and politician he had bribed to ensure his three-decade long run from justice).
According to media reports, postmortem photos of Veerappan with a bullet hole above his left eye seemed to contradict with the official story that the STF, lying in ambush, stopped the ambulance Veerappan and his gang was traveling in, offered them to surrender and gunned them down when someone from inside the van opened fire. Another possibility, voiced by psychologist, Dr. P. Kodandaram, is that Veerappan and his associates may have committed collective suicide inside the van when faced with capture.
Veerappan was buried in the village of Moolakadu, Tamil Nadu. The police said they did not let the burial take place in his home village in Karnataka, fearing the large crowds that had gathered there. Although the police had planned for a cremation, this was objected to by the relatives of Veerappan suggesting that exhumation would be required if there was investigation into his death. Thousands of people turned out for the funeral while others were kept away from the burial ground by heavy security.
Timeline of Veerappan's activities:
- Joined a gang of poachers.
- Arrested and lodged at Boodipada forest guest house but escaped under mysterious circumstances (reportedly bribed a police officer).
- Kidnapped and hacked forest officer Chidambaram. Kidnapped and killed 5 members of a rival gang.
- Killed 3 forest personnel of Begur forest range.
- Killed 2 police personnel as revenge for killing of 2 members of his gang.
- Killed another 13 police officials of Karnataka. The Karnataka government constitutes 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 3 years later)
- Attacked a police station in Ramapura, killing thirteen policemen and stealing arms and ammunition. STF killed 2 gang members in retaliation
- Trapped STF police official Harikrishna, SI Shakeel Ahmed and 25 constables through a false informant. Killed 29 of the party using hand grenades and bombs.
- Blew up a bus of 43 passengers including police and civilians, using landmine.
- Killed 17 policemen of Karnataka special SP Gopal Hosur's party.
- 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 government negotiations
- Killed a police informer.
- Killed another 19 police personnel.
- Assassinated police official Tamilselvan and killed a constable as revenge for the suicide of Veerappan's brother Arjunan in police custody.
- The gang kidnapped wildlife photographers Senani & Krupakar,they were released in October.)
- Apparently killed heir apparent 'Baby' Veerappan.
- Kidnapped and released another photographer Krupakar.
- Kidnapped and executed 9 Karnataka Forest officials from Burude forests.
- 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).
- Killed, presumably by Tamil Nadu State Special Task Force members
Causes of death
Police / government
- Why only a single bullet to the head, especially in an encounter?
- Why wasn't capture possible?
- Veerappan wanted his moustache. Who removed it: the police or him?
- Contrary to official "encounter" story
- Veerappan claimed he would kill himself given the appropriate circumstances.
- Police disallowed her from viewing his full body.
- Police insisted he be cremated rather than buried.
- It is also reported that he was poisoned and then dramatically shotdown to prove STF had captured him in encounter
- Why was capture impossible?
- Veerappan belonged to the Vanniar caste. Some people of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), or Working People's Party, which is based on that Vanniar caste, hoisted half-mast flag of their party on the death of Veerappan.
- When R. Gopal, editor of Nakkeeran Tamil weekly popularly known Nakeeran Gopal first interviewed Veerappan in his hideout, it gained him near celebrity status and the video tape became very popular.
- Veerappan was a sincere devotee of Kali a Goddess in Hinduism. It is also said that he built a Kali temple.
- Because of Veerappan's death, Ram Gopal Varma's film project Lets Catch Veerappan was re-titled to Lets Kill Veerappan.
- It is believed that he had stashed millions of rupees deep in the forest in cash including ransom money and ornaments, in secret caves and holes in the forest..
Representation in the arts
Veerappan was the inspiration behind some films and their characters.
- The character of Veeran (played by Govind Namdeo) in the Hindi film Sarfarosh (1999). The character is of a terrorist who arms the forest-dwellers with rifles.
- The character of Durga Narayan Chaudhary (played by Sushant Singh) in the Hindi film Jungle (2000). The character is of a forest gang leader who kidnaps a bus full of passengers, kills some of them and holds others to ransom.
- Let's Kill Veerappan (in production) by Ram Gopal Varma about a real-life story of three villagers who attempt to win the reward by providing information to the police.
- There were scores of regional films in Tamil and Kannada than had Veerappan as its antagonist like the Tamil movie Captain Prabhakaran and Kannada movie Veerappan, all of which were super hits.
- Makkal TV had aired TV serial based on Veerapan's life called Santhanakaadu (Sandal Wood). Karate Raja played Veerapan and Goutham directed the serial. The serials sheds some light on the positive side of Veerapan as well as their own presumed version of how Veerapan was killed which is by poisoning.
Books on Veerappan
- Veerappan: India's Most Wanted Man by Sunaad Raghuram. The film Let's Kill Veerappan is based on a chapter in this book.