The book traces Veerappan’s unexpected rise from a small-time poacher and sandalwood smuggler to a brutal fugitive.
K. Vijay Kumar, the man who headed the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (STF) that planned and executed the dreaded bandit Koose Muniasamy Veerappan’s killing, had come out with an account of the life of the fugitive in his latest book —Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand. The book includes the details of Operation Cocoon and is a retelling of a decade-long manhunt, the ruthless killings and high-profile kidnappings by Veerappan, including that of Kannada superstar Rajkumar.
Talking about why he chose this subject, Kumar says, “Veerappan, alive or dead is bound to evoke contrarian’s perspectives. I always wanted to write about this compelling story. Because this is a fascinating story of a wily predator and its hunters — each making moves — like on a chess board.”
The book traces Veerappan’s unexpected rise from a small-time poacher and sandalwood smuggler to a brutal fugitive, a journey spread over Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala for more than two decades. Ask the author how he did his research for the book, and he quips, “Basically I read all that I could lay my hands on — official documents and articles in the public domain. I put together whatever was published in media, case files and STF’s confidential documents. Then I interacted with people who had first hand and even second hand knowledge of facts. I visited many sites of action — Sorgam valley, for instance, just to visualise.”
Kumar has headed the CRPF from 2010-2012 and is currently serving as Senior Security Adviser in the Home Ministry. Reminiscing about the Operation Cocoon, he says, “The challenges were many. One interesting thing about him (Veerappan) was that he used to plan clever ambushes. I discreetly remember this one incident where Veerapan patiently sat non-stop for six nights, waiting for an STF officer he hated the most. I, too, had a few near death experiences, one where I walked into a chain of 45 mines. I got into the sights of his 7.62 rifle more than once. The book is full of both anecdotes and memories. With regards to how I recapitulated the memories, it helped that I had a habit of noting down any good turn of phrase or expression from anything that I had read. I was addicted to scribble down my experiences, emotions and feelings, even in the jungles.”
A Chennai-born Keralite, Kumar feels that it was this whole episode of chasing Veerappan that brought out the author in him. “I read, but I am a reluctant writer. To get an article for a magazine or coffee table book out of me is not easy. But luckily, I had reams of jottings on this ‘chase’. I ran into Vikas Singh, author of The Big Fix and Bhima, who helped me distil the whole stuff into a cogent and readable narration,” he shares, adding, “My grandfather’s book on international law, was published the day I was born. Ever since, this bug of writing got into me. I never disclosed the urge for the fear of consequences.”
Besides writing, the author likes to workout for an hour, read, and listen to music.