Veerappan Veerappan
Indian criminal
Veerappan Veerappan
commonly known as Sandalwood Veerappan', was an Indian dacoit active for a period of years in a broad swath of land covering 6,000 km² in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. He long defied three state governments and Indian Border security paramilitary forces, maintaining at one point a small army numbering in hundreds. He was wanted for killing approximately 184 people, mainly the Karnataka police men including senior police and forest officials.
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    FIFTIES
  • 2004
    Age 52
    On 18 October 2004, Veerappan and two of his associates were killed by the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force headed by K Vijay Kumar.
    More Details Hide Details 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 Veerappan's associates Sethukuli Govindan, Chandre Gowdar and Sethumani were also killed in the operation. His death was described as the "death of a demon" by The Guardian. The villagers of Gopinatham celebrated with firecrackers on hearing the news. Since Veerappan's 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 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.
    Veerappan was shot dead in the operation on 18 October 2004 along with three of his associates, Sethukuli Govinda, Chandre Gowda and Sethumani, while four policemen were injured.
    More Details Hide Details Veerappan defied the state governments of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and Indian Border security paramilitary forces, and maintained a small army, which at one point numbered hundreds. He was wanted for killing approximately 184 people, about half of whom were police officers, including senior police and forest officials. He was also wanted for poaching about 200 elephants and smuggling ivory worth US$2.6 million and about 10,000 tonnes of sandalwood worth approximately US$22 million. The joint Special Task Force (STF) operation of Veerappan, constituted in 1991 by the state governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, is considered one of the costliest in Indian history, consuming ₹1 billion over the years.
    As of 2004, his two other daughters were studying in Tamil Nadu.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • FORTIES
  • 1997
    Age 45
    In July 1997, he kidnapped nine forest officials in the Burude forests in Chamarajanagara district.
    More Details Hide Details 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 Rs. 3.3 million 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 the 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, including the Palar blast case.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1992
    Age 40
    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, 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.
    More Details Hide Details 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, the combined Special Task Force discovered that Veerappan's gang was down to only five 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. On 30 July 2000, Veerappan kidnapped actor Rajkumar and three others from Dodda Gajanur, a village near the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border where the film star was attending a 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.
  • 1991
    Age 39
    Among his well-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.
    More Details Hide Details 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. In Govindapadi, Mettur, Veerappan killed a Bandari suspected of being a police informer, and a 41-member team of police and forestry officials was called in. On 9 April 1993, a landmine was detonated against the two vehicles this team was travelling in. The blast occurred at Palar, near Malai Mahadeswara Hills, present Chamarajanagar District, Karnataka, and killed 22 members of the team. Known as the Palar blast, this was his single largest mass killing.
  • 1990
    Age 38
    In 1990, the Karnataka and the Tamil Nadu Governments formed a Special Task Force to catch Veerappan.
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  • 1987
    Age 35
    In 1987, Veerappan kidnapped and murdered a forest officer named Chidambaram from Tamil Nadu.
    More Details Hide Details This first brought him to the Indian Government's attention.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1970
    Age 18
    Veerappan began his career in crime in 1970 and was first arrested in 1972.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1952
    Age 0
    Born on January 18, 1952.
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