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STF will now look for Veerappan's 'treasure'
K Sivaprasad in Dharmapuri |
October 21, 2004 12:26 IST
After the fall of forest brigand Veerappan, special task forces of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are all set to launch a new operation -- this time to unearth the treasure trove of cash and jewellery that the sandalwood smuggler may have left behind.
Veerappan is said to have dugs pits across the vast forest land on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border to safe-keep the crores of rupees he earned in ransoms and by smuggling ivory and sandalwood.
Also read: "We beat Veerappan at his own game" | Man who caught the brigand alive
R R Gopal, editor of Tamil magazine Nakkeeran, who has interviewed Veerappan several times, has revealed in his writings that Veerappan used to keep packs of sealed currency notes in pits across the vast forest expanse he virtually ruled for over two decades.
Since Veerappan knew the terrain like the back of his hand, it was never difficult for him dig the money out whenever the need arose.
STF officials, however, admit it is not going to be easy to find the treasure.
Tamil Nadu STF chief K Vijaykumar, who is still camping in the Sathyamangalam forests, confirmed that an intense search will be launched to unearth Veerappan's ill-gotten wealth. "Veerappan is dead. But that is not the end of the story. We want to bring out of the forests whatever he has left behind. It could include money and even arms," Vijaykumar told rediff.com.
Veerappan last kidnapped former Karnataka minister H Nagappa in 2002. Nagappa died in his custody. In 2000, Veerappan had abducted and held captive Kannada film icon Dr Rajakumar for 108 days.
Reports then said the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu governments secured the matinee idol's release after paying the bandit close to Rs 40 crore in ransom.
There have also been reports in the local media that Veerappan used to distribute money rather generously in villages around the Sathyamangalam forests.
Hundreds of police personnel hunted for Veerappan for nearly two decades. Some of them now know the area well and could play a vital role in the new operation.
A senior STF official said the biggest task before them now is to ensure that local villagers do not venture into the forests to hunt for the money.