Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna had played dead bat to suggestions for a punitive strike against Veerappan during the 108 days Dr Rajkumar spent as the brigands quarry. But within a week of the revered thespian walking free, the CM has initiated assertive steps to eliminate the bandit and sever the gangs bonds with pro-ltte fora in Karnataka. And to pack more power in this assault against the man whos tormented him most, Krishna will seek the help of the commandos of the National Security Guards.
The Special Task Force (stf), transformed into a robust unit with additional director-general H.T. Sangliana as its chief, had reached Male Mahadeshwar hills when Krishna made a formal announcement about the operation recently. This officer has led counter-insurgency operations in the northeast and is known for his indomitable valour. His hatred for political interference is legendary, a fact politicians learnt during the 1978 parliamentary poll from Chikmagalur, when Indira Gandhi was resurrected politically, defeating Veerendra Patil.
Simultaneous with the deployment of the stf was the crackdown on ltte sympathisers in Bangalore. The Bangalore police interrogated members of certain fora that even celebrate the birthday of ltte supremo V. Prabhakaran, besides making a list of officebearers of Tamil organisations known to be supporters of parties like the Dravida Kazhagam and the pmk. This is to send a message that we are not sparing anyone, particularly those who are sympathisers of the ltte, official sources said.
The prompt action, according to a senior minister, is to erase the feeling that Krishnas administration is meek and would not initiate action against the poacher. In addition, the swift action would help restore confidence among investors who signed an MoU with the state government for projects worth Rs 27,000 crore only a month before the kidnap.
The state governments effort has evoked a positive reaction from the Opposition. I am confident this will be a determined effort because Mr Karunanidhi too has suffered a loss during the hostage crisis. I feel Veerappan had a perception of such a threat, otherwise he would not have released Dr Rajkumar without buying peace, as he did in previous instances, said opposition leader K.H. Srinivas.
Srinivas said if the police forces of the two states coordinated well, it wouldnt be difficult to track Veerappan down. That, incidentally, is the issue that dogs police officers minds. In the past, the two states have hurled charges of lack of cooperation against each other, causing delay in operations. Such has been the bitterness that officers of the two states would not speak to one another over the wireless despite a common channel. Ego hassles will have to be dealt with alongside attempts to ferret out the brigand. The likely intervention of central forces could either act as a cementing force or add to existing differences.
This time, itll be a question of luck as therell be no support at all from the villagers. If he moves into Tamil Nadu, a large population of Padayachi Gounders (the same community as Veerappan) wont lend any support. So, we have to get him during a chance encounter, says a retired dgp.
Despite the doubts, Krishnas administration has set out to draw an end to Veerappans acts. A successful mission would mean enormous political mileage for his government as well as Karunanidhis.