Additional Director General of Police Vijaya Kumar might have won the race in capturing Veerappan but the credit
for depleting his huge gang to just five men goes to the police officer who headed the Special Task Force for a long time, former Taml Nadu DGP, Walter Dawaram.
Dawaram was visibly happy when rediff.com Contributing Special Correspondent Shobha Warrier contacted him for his reaction.
How did you take the news of Veerappan's death? Was it relief for you?
No, it was not relief that I felt. I was extremely thrilled.
I knew the Tamil Nadu STF would do it.
It was an all-volunteer force and some of them have been part of it from 1992, waiting for this opportunity, waiting for this occasion.
Remember, they are all volunteers unlike other forces, and they said they would not come out of the forest until they finished the job. That was the kind of dedication and perseverance they had.
Of course, they were well led by Vijaya Kumar. So, they succeeded.
It is a great day for the STF and the Tamil Nadu police.
It is also a great day for the CM who kept her faith on them. This would not happened without support from the CM. Everybody was criticising the STF for wasting money and time but she had faith in them.
It is because of these three factors that they succeeded in getting him.
Do you feel disappointed because you were so close to him several times, and now that he is dead, you were not
part of the successful team?
No, no. I have done my part. All that I can say is, we did our part, and where I finally failed, Vijaya Kumar succeeded. I am happy for him.
You told me when I interviewed you last time that searching for Veerappan in the Satyamangalam forests was like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Yes. But this time he made the mistake of leaving the sanctuary of the Karnataka forests and coming into Tamil Nadu.
And he paid the price for that.
Do you feel his illness was the reason behind such an end?
I don't think so. How do you know he was ill?
Nobody has met him. So, how can you believe stories of his illness?
Unless a doctor examines him, you can never say he was ill. No, you can't take the credit away from the police.
If he was that ill, how did he and his people fight the police in the course of the encounter?
Do you feel over the years, the police force won over the people living in the area, and that could be one of
the reasons why he was finally trapped?
Yes, the police has done very good field work. Actually, it is collective intelligence that has helped them. They followed him from place to place, step by step and finally caught him.
The Karnataka government claims it is because of the efforts of the Karnataka STF that he was caught.
They did their work well when he was on that side of the border. Karnataka also put great pressure on him. He came over to this side. I would say it was a good combined effort.
Do you feel it would have been better if he was caught alive?
It is a very hypothetical question. In an encounter, when the other side is also armed, you cannot expect the police to catch him alive. It was inevitable.
The talk is if he were caught alive, a lot of skeletons could have tumbled out of several closets, some truths
that many wouldn't want to hear
We may recover some more money, which was handed over. Already, they have recovered 3, 4 crores from the forest and from people whom he has given it to. They will recover all the money he has buried.
Who do you think will get the Rs 5 crore offered for his head?
All that will definitely be given. If there are informants, they also will be given a share, and all the policemen involved in the operation will be rewarded.
Veerappan is dead. Do you think another Veerappan will take his place soon?
I don't think any other Veerappan will come! Suppose another forest offender commits a murder, he will have to face the same fate.
When did you get the news?
At midnight itself. Vijaya Kumar rang me up from there and conveyed the good news. From then on, I have been following the news!
Photographs: Rediff Archives
Image: Uday Kuckian