How Veerappan was murdered by STF

10 months of planning, 45 minutes for action
By V.S. Palaniappan
DHARMAPURI, OCT. 19. While `Operation Cocoon' took at least 10 months of planning and three weeks of rigorous and meticulous preparation, its execution lasted hardly 45 minutes, the Additional Director-General of Police, K. Vijay Kumar, said today.
The Superintendent of Police, STF, N.K. Senthamaraikannan, handled the intelligence component of the plan, while logistics were taken care of by the Superintendents of Police, K. Shanmugavelu and P. Chinnasamy. The Karnataka STF team also worked on a similar strategy.
Four STF men were sent to the fringe villages and settled in without giving rise to any suspicion. Later, they mingled with the criminal gang, won their confidence and provided a treasure trove of information to the intelligence wing. STF men also posed as taxi and car drivers, bus conductors, hawkers and even as `maistris' to keep tabs on the gang.
Some men also infiltrated into prisons in the State and the STF was rewarded with vital clues and leads. The Karnataka STF provided inputs from the Kollegal, Mysore and Bangalore prisons.
The gang was plagued by many problems such as difference of opinion between Veerappan and Sethukuzhi Govindan, the wavering minds of Chandre Gowde and Sethumani and a shortage of men and material. The brigand was also in need of medical assistance, Mr. Kumar said.
After learning that Veerappan was trying to establish contact with some persons in the South Arcot and Perambalur districts, the STF lured him into its trap. His decision to move from the dense forests made the job easier.
Trap laid
On getting a tip-off that the gang was likely to move out of the jungles either on Monday or Wednesday, a trap was laid on Monday. A police van was re-designed like an ambulance to convince the brigand that medical aid was in the offing. An STF man, Saravanan, posed as hospital staff and drove the ambulance while his colleague, Kumaresan, mingled with the gang and provided vital information on their movements.
The hit teams were led by the Deputy Superintendents of Police, N. Thirunavukkarasu and Hussain, and the core teams by the Inspectors, Rajarajan and Mohan Nawaz, and Sub-Inspector Prasanna.
As the ambulance was proceeding towards Dharmapuri, a lorry with built-in bunkers was positioned on the roadside in a vantage position. STF men with assault rifles also took positions atop a nearby school under the cover of darkness. The van was intercepted at 10.45 p.m. and the brigand was asked to surrender. Veerappan and his gang opened fire and did not respond even to the second warning. "The STF then opened fire in defence," Mr. Kumar said.
The bullets of the STF team riddled the van, killing Veerappan on the spot. Sethukuzhi Govindan, Chandre Gowde and Sethumani died on way to the Dharmapuri Government Hospital. To a query if any accomplice of Veerappan had escaped, Mr. Kumar replied in the negative.
After the operation got over, the ADGP took some time off to visit the Bannari Amman temple to fulfil his vow. He sported a tonsured head at the press conference.


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