Mind game to gundown veerappna: Vilan movie SP plans his wife to go back to beera

"It was our turn to deceive Veerappan"
By G. Satyamurty and V.S. Palaniappan
— Photo: K. Ananthan

COIMBATORE, OCT. 20. "It was a psychological operation. Our low-profile during the past 10 months, lackadaisical appearance and apparent ineptitude lulled Veerappan into complacency," the Commandant of the Special Task Force, Additional Director-General of Police K. Vijay Kumar, said today.
"It was the escalation of the level of complacency that made him enter the plains" knowing fully well that "he would be virtually a fish out of water."
In an interview The Hindu at the Sathyamangalam STF camp, about 90 km from here, Mr. Vijay Kumar recounted the factors that contributed to the downfall of the elusive brigand on Monday night.
"We deliberately kept a low profile. It was a conscious decision," he said. Another important decision was "not to be a bull in a china shop. There would be only specific arrests and specific surgical action. We ensured that the protracted disappointment and frustration never led to any distraction among the rank and file of the force. In the last 15 years, we had been deceived by an overcautious Veerappan and it was our turn to deceive and lure him to the trap."
Informants activated
After taking over as the STF chief last December, Mr. Vijay Kumar tried to revive "the half-dormant assets" (informants). By March-end, substantial intelligence was available regarding Veerappan's movements. The input revealed that he was "quite comfortable" in the M.M. Hills and its surroundings, especially around Nallur that was near his native place, Gopinatham. "He had very loyal people in that region, who would even lay down their lives for him."
While it was decided to "push him into thin forests in the east" (the Pennagaram and Yemanur forests), another plan to "wean away" his lieutenant, Chandre Gowda, using his affection towards his ailing parents was abandoned by May-June due to certain reasons. The eastern jungles were made a free ground for Veerappan to move about and he was allowed to build his contacts. But, by then "we had dumped or inundated our reinforcements on all sides, preventing his movement in other directions. To deceive him, we had even conducted a couple of raids and patrols in pockets where he was hiding and returned with empty hands, just to give an impression that the STF was still not able to trace his whereabouts."
"By then we came to know that Veerappan was suffering from some eye ailment. But then he was hesitant to come to the plains for treatment. To make it uncomfortable for him, we peppered the entire Nallur region — from Nallur to the Cauvery, for a stretch of 20 to 25 km — with 30 to 40 groups of STF personnel, who would be present all the time."
Combing operations
Mr. Vijay Kumar said this forced the bandit to seek a different hideout. "We were holding the enemy's ground. I would consider this as the most important strategy that contributed to his fall."
Later, the STF, which was present in the Pennagaram forests, even up to Natrampalayam was directed to go north. Thus, a virtually "free zone" was created for him "without making him suspicious." Instead of regular combing operations, once in a way a sort of "bush bashing" was undertaken so that he would believe that "vacating the zone by the STF was not deliberate."
Mr. Vijay Kumar admitted that the STF's knowledge of "internal squabbles" in the gang (with Veerappan losing trust in Sethukuzhi Govindan because of an ego clash over leadership and also in Sethumani for his inconsistency in staying in the jungles) helped. Velladurai, an STF Sub-Inspector, infiltrated the gang, posing as a sympathiser of an armed revolution, and inveigled the gang to the ambulance. He succeeded in assuring all help, including manpower, logistics and even asylum, if required to the bandits. Veerappan was favourably disposed towards such armed revolutionaries and had the backing of like-minded persons in his community, especially in the Dharmapuri, Salem and Cuddalore belt.
Mr. Vijay Kumar said the help to Veerappan from villagers had come down of late. "But we never used the medical camps that we organised and the various welfare measures for the tribal people to tap intelligence. We never expected anything in return but it helped in considerably reducing his support base."


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