Bengaluru: Remember Veerappan? Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will take a long time to forget the forest outlaw who poached elephants for their ivory, smuggled sandalwood, killed many policemen and forest officers, kidnapped tourists and a Kannada superstar - Rajkumar. Veerappan was killed in 2004 after years of police effort - and the man who headed the operation, K Vijay Kumar, has narrated that story in a book, 'Veerappan - Chasing the Brigand'.
At the Bengaluru launch of the book, Mr Kumar told NDTV, "The memories are very clear - in fact even clearer now after going through minute details of the operation."
Mr Kumar, the former Tamil Nadu's Special Task Force chief, had spearheaded Operation Cocoon that led to the killing of the man responsible for the death of around 200 civilians, police officers and forest officers. The killing of Veerappan was questioned at the time. But the former officer insists that it was a genuine encounter that led to the death of the outlaw in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu on October 18, 2004.
Karnataka home minister, Dr G Parameshwara, who released the book, remembered the time when Veerappan would send tapes to the Karnataka government, placing his demands against the release of Mr Rajkumar, who was in the forest for 100 days as Veerappan's hostage.
Mr Rajkumar's second son, Raghavendra, also attended the event to represent the late actor's family.
Also present, were family members of those killed by Veerappan. P Harikrishna's daughter, Jyotika, who was only 3 when her father was killed, said she was happy the story has been written and is being shared.
The event saw many retired and serving police officers whose lives and careers has been touched by Veerappan's actions.
Former police officer Gopal Hosur, who had volunteered for the Special Task Force in Karnataka, spoke of his terrible injuries and near brush with death, after being shot in the forest.
"I had a close relationship with Veerappan," he said. "The day of his death was one of relief and rejoicing. Veerappan escaped from police custody in 1986. His area was 2000 sq km. An estimated 800 crores was spent on the Veerappan operation.
"From the age of 10 - until his death at 52, he killed almost 200 people - almost 90 were police and forest officials. On May 24, 1993, when I was 39 years old, I barely managed to escape alive. I had 5 major surgeries, 60 inches of my body was stitched."
Describing the death of Veerappan in his book, Mr Kumar writes, "He had been a wily and worthy foe, with a mastery over both strategy and tactics."
After Veerappan died, Mr Kumar writes that he went on to call the then Tamil Nadu chief minister, Jayalalithaa. "We got him, ma'am," he said.
The book is dedicated to Jayalalithaa and to all the search teams involved in that famous chase, he adds.