Tribals will be roped in to nab Veerappan: Dawaram
From Shankar Bennur
Mr Walter I Dawaram, who heads the joint team of Special Task Forces of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to capture forest brigand Veerappan, said here today that direct operations would be launched against the brigand only after taking the tribals in the forest into confidence.
Speaking to reporters after holding discussions with senior STF officials from both the States, Mr Dawaram said, "As it is tricky to conduct operations without the cooperation of the forest inhabitants, the STF will first take them into confidence and then information about Veerappan would be gathered. Afterwards, the joint direct operations would be launched." Mr Dawaram along with other officers returned to the base camp after engaging in combing operations. The crucial meeting of the Special Task Force (STF) officers from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu which was scheduled to be held at M M Hills today morning, was held at Karattur near Sathyamangalam.
This was the first review meeting after the STF was revamped and it worked out logistics to apprehend the forest bandit. Explaining the strategy to capture the notorious poacher, Mr Dawaram said, "Around 40,000 tribals of the forest region would be met as part of the new strategy. The STF has already met 20,000 tribals in 242 villages to get their views." When asked about the tribals’ reaction, Mr Dawaram said, "The response was excellent. They have promised us to give information about the brigand. I have received over 500 petitions from the tribals seeking basic facilities in their settlements. I have studied them and action will be taken soon."
Mr Dawaram said the tribal settlements on the forest boundaries would be converted into "model" villages if the tribals furnish details about the bandit. Such villages would get roads, drinking water, power supply, hospitals and schools, he said. Mr Dawaram said a reward of Rs 25,000 would be given to those who give information about Veerappan's hide-out. This would be in addition to the reward of Rs 25 lakh already announced by the STF for capture of the brigand, he said. Replying to a query, the former Tamil Nadu DGP said no restrictions had been imposed on the tribals. "The tribals are free to move as the forests have been kept open," he said.
Elaborating on the "anti-Veerappan" operations, Mr Dawaram said the Task Force had taken all strategic measures to capture the brigand dead or alive. "All essential requirements in this regard are being provided to the forces," he noted. "The joint operations of the STF of the two states will not be stopped until the poacher is nabbed," he said, while replying to another query.Asked about capture of Veerappan's "extremist friends", Mr Dawaram said, "the assistance of Q-branch police had been sought to arrest those elements."
On the criticism over his appointment as the Karnataka STF chief, Mr Kempaiah said, "I'll not listen to such remarks. The appointment is the result of the faith the government has in me and my good work. I'll work honestly." Tamil Nadu STF Inspector-General Vijay Kumar also took part in the discussions. STF given free hand: Meanwhile, Karnataka Home Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge said at Bangalore today that the Joint Special Task Force had been given a free hand to draw up fresh strategies to nab the poacher-smuggler and his gang. Speaking to reporters, he said: “Our aim is to nab Veerappan and it is not a policy matter,” he said.