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Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand Paperback – 10 February 2017
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About the Author
From the Publisher
Conversation with K. Vijay Kumar
Veerappan’s courier was on edge. As he scurried away from the village, he kept sneaking furtive glances all around him, trying to ensure that he was not being followed. Then a familiar voice called his name and his heart sank.
‘Dei Punnuswamy, where are you going in such a rush?’ asked Sethukuli Govindan, Veerappan’s distant cousin and a new rising star
within the gang. Punnuswamy laughed nervously, ‘Oh hello, what are you doing here?’
he asked. Govindan walked up to Punnuswamy. He placed his palm on the back of Punnuswamy’s head and stared into his eyes, speaking in a soft but menacing voice. ‘Funny, I had the same question for you. Why don’t you answer first?’ he asked. Punnuswamy’s faltering nerves crumbled and he collapsed to his knees. ‘Please don’t hurt me. I’ll tell you everything,’ he wailed.
A few hours later, Govindan was pushing Punnuswamy into the gang’s camp. The commotion brought Veerappan to the scene. ‘What’s
going on?’ he demanded.
Punnuswamy later told the police that he had fallen at Veerappan’s feet and wrapped his hands around his legs. ‘Anna, nananu ksamisu
(Elder brother, forgive me). I had no intention of harming you. They forced me to take the gun. They said I should sneak into the camp and
kill you whenever I get the chance. I was going to tell you everything. Spare my life, I beg you,’ he snivelled.
‘Who are “they”?’ asked Veerappan.
‘The STF dogs,’ whimpered Punnuswamy. A smile crossed Veerappan’s face as he leaned down to pat the man grovelling at his feet. ‘The Karnataka STF is planning to kill me, da? I think it’s time they too were taught a lesson,’ he snarled. It was a beautiful morning on 24 May 1993 in MM Hills, some 150 km from Mysore. The road to Mysore has many S-curves and the surrounding greenery and bright sunshine made for a picturesque setting.
The beauty of it was completely lost on Veerappan as he lay on a not far from here, hordes of villagers on a daily wage of `20, which
they cheerfully took, used to harvest one of the world’s best sandalwood varieties.
Veerappan only had eyes for the road, where the Karnataka STF convoy was expected any moment. His men had kept watch on the STF
camp, monitoring all movement in and out of it for almost a week. They had picked out the ambush spot a couple of days back and were lying
in wait ever since. Around 7 a.m., Veerappan tensed as his keen ears picked up the sound of approaching vehicles. He nodded grimly. Three distinct sounds.
Soon, three police jeeps came into view. The front and rear jeeps were probably escort vehicles. Veerappan’s eyes focused on the middle one, which was carrying Gopal Hosur, the STF SP who commanded the camp in MM Hills. He was a major thorn in Veerappan’s flesh.
‘Not for much longer,’ thought the bandit grimly, even as he began savouring the moment when he would give the order to open fire.
A shot rang out just seconds before the convoy would have been hopelessly trapped. ‘What the hell! Which idiot fired before I gave the go-ahead? I’ll kill him myself,’ roared Veerappan. But his voice was drowned out as his other men too began shooting in a chain reaction. A furious Veerappan roared with impotent rage as he emptied his weapon at the vehicles. Despite the premature firing, the convoy was riddled with bullets. Many STF men were hit before they could even process what was going on. Others quickly spilled out of the jeeps to take cover behind the trees
and fired back. Gopal’s driver, Ravi, felt a sharp pain in his right wrist as a bullet went through. Groaning, he quickly sized up the situation. ‘It’s hopeless,’ he thought and turned to look at the back seat.
He saw that Gopal had raised his AK-47, even though he was bleeding profusely from the neck. The sight jolted Ravi into action.
Frantically, he tried to manoeuvre the jeep, but it didn’t respond. Puzzled, he looked at his right hand and realized that there was no strength left in it. Ravi swore, then grabbed the steering wheel with his
left and reversed as fast as he could. ‘He’s getting away,’ yelled Veerappan. ‘After him!’ The outlaws broke cover and raced towards the road. But the jeep was too fast. Veerappan turned his face to the sky and howled in frustration. ‘I’ll get you another day,’ he screamed. With effort, he composed himself. ‘Time to get out of here,’ he ordered. ‘Make sure to cut down a tree and block the route in case they send a search party after us.’ As his men began to melt away, Veerappan strode up to one of the jeeps in which all the occupants were lying dead. ‘I’ll get myself a little souvenir,’ he said, pulling out a 7.62 mm SLR that belonged to one of the jeep’s unfortunate occupants. He carried that weapon with him till his last day. The gang had prepared its ambush so thoroughly and was so sure of its success that it moved on to a designated rendezvous spot where piping hot tea and snacks were laid out. An exuberant Veerappan rewarded his key associates liberally with gold chains, his earlier anger forgotten. At the time I was at the STF headquarters in Mellur (Tamil Nadu)
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- Paperback : 263 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-8129145352
- ISBN-10 : 8129145359
- Item Weight : 340 g
- Publisher : Rupa Publications India; First Edition (10 February 2017)
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 1.63 x 21.59 cm
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #8,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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The friendly fire cut a sorry figure.
The bombshell Mr X should have been revealed whatsoever his social status is. It's always the blessings of such Mr X which help such goons /bandits to thrive.
Kashmir too is similar and so are Maoist in chhatisgarh. There are many such Mr X because of whom the police and army are being sacrificed.
Absolute start to finish 50 mts dash.
Nuggets of wisdom everywhere..The author K.VIjay Kumar I.P.S. has lucidly narrated the events and takes us through the journey into the psyche of Veerappan , general public, media, political leadership, and of the cadres of STF, State Police and BSF. I understood that weakening the enemy psychologically is more important for ultimate victory.
The government has the upper hand when it has a strict "no negotiation policy" with anti-social elements who blackmail the government to yield to their demands. But when the emotional and gullible Public react and the media fans public sentiments, the political leadership is forced to make decisions which deride the sacrifices of the Personnel who put their lives at risk. It requires tremendous leadership to lead the forces in these situations ,and to keep their morale high - the IPS officer has done this job well. I also understood the importance of political will and how it can make a difference.
The language is simple yet classy. The Author throws in references here and there from security failures and operational successes from all over the world which gives us more to explore and makes the book more interesting.
Though uneducated and had limited exposure, Veerappan's tactical skills were excellent and created sleepless nights for the forces for more than 20 years. During the preparations leading to the final Operation Cocoon which lead to Veerappan's death, the author wonders: "It's unlikely that Veerappan would have read Edgar Allan Poe's The Purloined Letter, but he followed the same principle - letting his conduit and the getaway van hide in plain sight [near the police station], as that was the last place anyone would expect to find him."
The camaraderie among the forces without hierarchy, patience during nerve-racking hours of waiting for the target, the risks of friendly fire ,preparing and sending people to infiltrate the group even after multiple failures and gaining the ever-alert and ever-suspicious Veerappan's trust each time ,engaging with an enemy in a guerrilla warfare where the enemy has clear advantages, the serene as well as demanding jungle life, finally not relenting until the mission is accomplished- all these things make this book an intense and a gripping read!
Also sincere respects and prayers to the Police personnel who lost their lives during this period.
Top reviews from other countries
This book should serve as an effective correction to the wild conspiracy theories and ill-advised glorification of Veerappan. The tenacity, dedication and sacrifice of the STF, Police and other team members has been beautifully brought out and I'd recommend the book to every Indian, especially those who tend to indulge in conspiracy theories around Veerappan.
We knew Vijay Kumar was a brilliant Police Officer, but he's proven himself as a brilliant writer as well. 5 stars.
The endearing thing about Chasing the Brigand is that it immerses you in the forests, villages and cities of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. It has a visceral sense of setting to it that I found really compelling. The difficult part is that it's a bit of a trick to keep all the names sorted through all the appearances and reappearances of policemen, villagers, tribals and of course, the waxing and waning ranks of Veerappan's inner circle.
It's not quite a pure police procedural, and not quite a pure memoir, but a bit of both.