Follow Us:
Thursday, December 02, 2021

Dead Veerappan is also becoming a headache

Eight months after his death, forest brigand Veerappan is giving the Karnataka police as much of a headache as he did during his elusive &#1...

Written by Johnson T A | Bangalore |
July 5, 2005

Eight months after his death, forest brigand Veerappan is giving the Karnataka police as much of a headache as he did during his elusive ‘Wanted-Dead-or-Alive’ days in the forests bordering the state.

Members of the Special Task Force, 4,246 in all, involved in ‘Nab-Veerappan’ operations since 1993, are today tearing their hair in desperation, while the state government dithers on its promise of rewards. Several have borrowed heavily in the hope that the reward will cover their debts. Others have invested in expensive goods. Some are contemplating legal measures if they are ‘short-changed.’ A few exceptions have spelt it out in clear terms to the state that they don’t think they deserve the rewards.

Meanwhile, an indecisive government pushes the issue of the rewards back and forth between its finance and home departments—each seeking changes in the reward plan.

At stake is Rs 50 crore in cash and housing sites announced on October 19, 2004 by Chief Minister Dharam Singh—following Veerappan’s death on October 18, plus the Rs 5.40 crore reward on Veerappan’s head and the Rs 10.5 crore on his associates. In neighbouring Tamil Nadu, where similar rewards were announced, the Special Task Force got their cash within 15 days of the announcement.

‘‘Nearly 90 per cent of us have borrowed heavily in the belief that the rewards will come sooner or later, especially those who have served in the STF for five years or more—since we will be eligible for Rs 3 lakh,’’ says an STF constable who served in the forests between 1995-2000.

‘‘When it was announced, we thought we were finally being rewarded for those years we spent in the forests in the rain and sun away from our families. With the guarantee of the reward, I paid a heavy donation for my daughter’s engineering seat this year,’’ says a former STF sub-inspector.

The dithering has been at various levels. First, the quandary was on how to equitably distribute the money among all those who served to eliminate Veerappan and his gang since 1993. Then director general of police S N Borkar asked five commanders—Shankar Bidari, M K Srivastava, Harshavardhan Raju, Kempaiah and Jyoti Prakash Mirji—who headed the STF between 1993-2004, to prepare a list of deserving policemen.

From the list of 4,246 provided by the five commanders, a plan was drawn up by senior police officers to divide the rewards on the basis of the years of service of the STF personnel and the number of gang members killed or captured. This plan in which the commanders were to receive around 20 per cent of the amount handed to their men was then forwarded to the state government.

Shankar Bidari, during whose 1993-96 tenure 84 Veerappan gang members were killed or captured—including the bandit’s brother Arjunan with a Rs 40-lakh reward on his head—stood to gain the most, Rs 8 crore, from the proposal. The others were to receive approximately Rs 30 lakh, Rs 70 lakh, Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 4.1 crore respectively. ‘‘As commanders, our roles are less significant compared to that of the men. It is they who really deserve the awards,’’ says Srivastava, currently an additional director general of police.

However, when the plan recently reached the government, the home department rejected the proposal of the police and stated that only those in the STF at the time of killing of Veerappan are eligible for the cash and housing sites announced by the Chief Minister on October 19, 2004 since the government order on the rewards states so. They have narrowed the rewards race to 1,417 STF members, pegged the amount down to Rs 20 crore and indicated that the others are only entitled to share the rewards placed on the heads of Veerappan and his gang members, sources said. The home department’s proposal has not been placed before the cabinet for approval as yet and sparks are likely to fly with several policemen gearing up for legal battle if the plan passes muster.

Incidentally, one of the officers in the Karnataka STF and in the forests at the time of the killing of Veerappan, Superintendent of Police Madhukar Shetty, recently wrote to the police top brass stating that he does not deserve the reward and that he has merely performed his duty as a police officer. ‘‘It is my personal preference to opt out. It is the men on the ground who really deserve the reward,’’ says Shetty.

The inside story on the rewards is that of a clash of egos and one-upmanship between senior officers who do not want to see one get more than the other, say police officials.

‘‘This is an example of the adage, success has several fathers while failure is an orphan. If this had been a botched operation no one would have claimed responsibility, now everybody is,’’ says Inspector General and Director General of the Karnataka police force B N Albuquerque.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest News Archive News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard