Almost 12 years after his elimination, the story of the killing of forest brigand Veerappan is being chronicled, none other than by the person who led the ‘Operation Cocoon’.
Retired IPS officer K Vijay Kumar is currently writing the nearly 1,000 page book on Veerappan, who had ruled 6,000 sq km forest in three Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala for more than two decades, poached over 200 elephants, smuggled ivory worth hundreds of crore of rupees and killed more than 180 people, mostly police and forest officials.
“It is a first hand experience book. My aim is to give a clear and correct picture on how Veerapan was killed,” said Kumar, currently serving as senior Security Advisor to the Home Ministry after his retirement as chief of CRPF.
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Kumar led the Special Task Force which was instrumental in launching ‘Operation Cocoon’ to capture or kill Veerapan.
Incidentally, a Hindi movie, directed by Ram Gopal Varma, on the life of the bandit and the events leading to his elimination was released only last fortnight.
“My book will be the real story. I will not reveal names of a few persons due to security reasons. Otherwise, every details of the operation are being chronicled,” Kumar, the 1975 batch IPS officer, said.
As per reports, the ‘Operation Cocoon’ was planned for ten months during which STF personnel infiltrated as hawkers, masons and local service staff in the villages where Veerappan was roaming.
The day he was killed, October 18, 2004, Veerapan was planning to take a medical treatment for his eye in South Arcot. Veerapan was first escorted out of the forest to the ambulance stationed at Papirappati village in Dharmapuri district, which was a police vehicle, by one of the policeman who earlier infiltrated his gang.
A group of STF members was stationed in the village, a few security men were hiding in security tankers in the road and others were hiding in the bushes.
The driver of the ambulance, who was also a policeman, made an escape. As per police report, Veerappan and his gang were first warned and then asked to surrender, which was denied and the gang started firing at the STF personnel.
The STF retaliated by firing grenades and gun fire.
Veerappan was killed on the spot, while his gangmen died on the ambulance taking them to the government hospital.