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Internal rivalry did Veerappan in: STF

Last updated on: October 26, 2004 17:12 IST

Special Task Force chief K Vijaykumar on Tuesday described Veerappan, the brigand that the STF gunned down last week, as an extortionist.

He dismissed suggestions that he was a Tamil extremist.

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He also ruled out any retaliation from the gangs that backed Veerappan in his last years in the forests.

There had been reports that an organisation had issued letters threatening to blast railway stations and government property after Veerappan's killing.

Vijaykumar, an assistant director general of police, who was promoted as DGP after Veerappan's killing, also brushed aside the theory that Veerappan committed suicide and was not shot dead by the force and that he was killed somewhere else and brought dead to the place of the "encounter".

In an interview to the Press Trust of India at the STF base camp in Sathyamangalam, Tamil Nadu, the officer said that Veerappan had spoken "contemptuously and dismissively" about the Tamil Viduthalai Iyakkam (Tamil Liberation Force), an extremist group whose support he had taken when he abducted Kannada actor Rajkumar four years ago.

"We gathered information that Veerappan never believed his close lieutenant Sethukuli Govindan and used to speak contemptuously and dismissively about Sethumani of the TLA," he said.

Internal rivalry in his gang could have given the STF the opportunity to track him down, Vijaykumar said.

Vijaykumar added that he would take care of the three personnel who had infiltrated and mingled with Veerappan's gang and helped the force kill him.

"Though I do not consider Veerappan as an extremist, we will take care of Velladurai, who joined the gang posing as a Tamil extremist, Saravanan, the driver of the ambulance in which he was killed and Kumaresan, who disguised as a mason and a conductor to watch the movements of Veerappan," he said.

After the abduction and subsequent killing of former Karnataka minister H Nagappa, Veerappan was short of manpower and might have been forced to take a few persons who had links with Tamil fundamentalist groups, he said.

Vijaykumar dismissed the theory that Veerappan had committed suicide. "I am surprised at the speculation and the controversy raised over the issue.

"If it was suicide, it would have come out in the post-mortem report and analysis," Vijaykumar, who masterminded 'Operation Cocoon,' said.

"Actually, we asked him to surrender, so that he be caught alive."

Asked if Veerappan was shot and brought to Papparapatti, the 'encounter' spot, he said, "It is very funny... Why should we shoot and bring him? What is the necessity?

"If Veerappan was shot dead somewhere else, that is, in his own den, it would be the biggest morale-booster for the entire STF."

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