Since Tuesday morning around 25,000 curious onlookers have come to see what Veerappan, the dreaded killer, looked like, Ashish Vachani, the district collector of Dharmapuri, told rediff.com
Veerappan with such a short moustache?
Veerappan was intercepted by a Special Task Force team seven kilometres from the district municipality, which is the only urban area in Dharmapuri district. About 37 per cent of the district's geographical area comes under forest cover.
His body was brought to the Dharmapuri General Hospital late on Monday night. A postmortem was conducted and the body embalmed on the afternoon of October 19.
The fugitive was killed on the road leading to Tiruchy and Salem.
"The road passes from right outside my house but I am not quite sure where he was going. There is no way of confirming what was in his mind," says Vachani, who took over his current post in June.
Veerappan's wife arrives to claim body
On whether Veerappan commanded any support in the area, Vachani said, "Little awe (for Veerappan) people do have in certain sections but they are equally aware of his cruel ways."
With a population of 12.86 lakhs, Dharmapuri is one of the most backward districts of Tamil Nadu and India. Eighty-eight per cent of its population is involved in agriculture but recurring drought has adversely affected income for this sector.
'The STF has been waiting since 1992'
The Tamil Nadu government initiated a development socio-economic programme two years ago to create and upgrade infrastructure and provide a stimulus for the local economy. This year, J Jayalalithaa, the state chief minister, has agreed to provide Rs 6 crores (Rs 60 million) for this programme, says Vachani.
'Who helped Veerappan survive so long?'
Declining to confirm who would receive the Rs 5.5 crore (Rs 55 million) reward that was announced for Veerappan's capture, he said this was a policy decision of the government of Tamil Nadu and would have to come from the state secretariat in Chennai.
Jaya pats STF, self