is India Editorial
No eulogy for
Veerappan is a
model of how not to live a life, and his killing must spur us to
address the causes that create such monsters
What is India News Service
November 8, 2004
In India, one does not speak
badly of the dead, much less rejoice at someone’s death. However,
barring those who directly fed off him, the whole nation was very
happy to learn that Koose Muniswamy Veerapan was dead.
If one were to
describe Veerapan, one would say that this is exactly how not to
live your life. A murderer, kidnapper, poacher, extortionist, and
thief, Veerapan accounted for the known deaths of over 2,000
elephants and 135 humans, theft of several hundred sandalwood trees,
and at least 10 kidnappings and countless unreported ones. The hunt
for Veerapan went on for decades, making it the costliest manhunt in
Indian history involving the most number of security and police
forces. Future generations will wonder why it took a nation of 1
billion, and one of the largest security and police forces in the
world, this long to catch a criminal with no apparent political
links or sophisticated arms. The answers are yet to come, and in a
country growing apathetic and cynical by the day, they are obvious.
his terrorist career in the late '60s, working for a local Dravida
Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) politician in Dharmapuri district. With
countless encounters with the police, Veerapan magically always
escaped. Either the police were reined in by conniving politicians
in Chennai or Bangalore, or he simply bribed his way out.
Coincidentally, every time the DMK was in power, the hunt would be
toned down. There were many rumors of DMK politicians getting a
payback from Veerapan. Unfortunately, there was no investigation
from the media which is now bent on comparing him to Robin Hood and
glorifying his existence. Even though the numbers of humans killed
were overwhelmingly civilian, no one questioned self-styled human
rights activists on the rights of those executed by Veerapan in cold
blood. While editorials talk about the “questions about the manner
in which he was killed'', they do not talk about the lives of police
and forest officials who were killed in the most barbaric and
finding out whether Veerapan was a criminal or a Robin Hood, we
should find out how he managed to get crores of rupees into the
forest undetected. Instead of alluding motives for Veerapan’s
death, we should find out how hundreds of tonnes of sandalwood were
smuggled out of the forest without anyone noticing. Instead of
figuring out how he managed to “enthrall” the local population,
we should be asking how he managed to hide this money. Many reports
say that Veerapan had the habit of burying the money in polythene
bags in the forest. Such reports are spurring bounty seekers to
enter the forest in droves to “discover” his hidden treasure.
bounty seekers need to be stopped, it would be a good idea to pore
through bank accounts of politicians, their relatives, and the
unusually large accounts of unknown or benami individuals to see
whether there was any interesting activity of transfers. It would
also be interesting to find out if these people had filed taxes and
what they declared as their sources of income.
have to examine the circumstances that created, nurtured, and
protected Veerapan. If one removes the individual, Veerapan is more
a disease stemming from lack of education, low job opportunities and
health care, systemic corruption, and loss of fundamental hereditary
values in several communities.
While we must kill the Veerapans of this world, we must also
ensure that we fix these root causes.
The killing of
Veerapan is only the first step. Let us focus on destroying the
precipitating and sustaining environment for such criminals.
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