Colombo, October 23
The Sri Lankan Tamil press on Saturday prominently featured a story that the bandit king, Veerappan, was tricked into coming out of the jungle by making him believe that he would be stealthily whisked away to the safety of LTTE-held area.
Both Sudar Oli and Thinakkural featured the story, but only Sudar Oli attributed it to Dinamalar, the popular multi-edition Tamil Nadu daily.
According to the story, about two months back, the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (STF) had worked out two alternative plans to inveigle the highly suspicious bandit to come out of the safety of his jungle lair.
The first was to offer treatment for his eye problem and the second was to offer him a safe route to LTTE-controlled territory in Sri Lanka.
The fact that Veerappan had become close to some pro-LTTE Tamil extremists and that these elements were determining his public statements in the last few years, had come in handy to the STF.
The first strategy of offering medical aid in a safe hospital did not work because Veerappan was not convinced that it was safe. The STF had sent a man who was close to Veerappan to talk him into this, but he came back empty handed.
It was then that the second strategy was set in motion. Another close associate of Veerappan’s was bought over and sent into his lair to inveigle him.
Police Sub-Inspector Velladurai was then sent to pose as a Sri Lankan Tamil LTTE representative.
Velladurai, who had learnt to speak Tamil like the Sri Lankan Tamils do, carried a letter and some photos to prove that he was a LTTE man.
In the beginning, Veerappan was suspicious, and had refused the offer. But he was convinced after he was shown the letter and the photographs. Sub Inspector Velladurai told him that he could bring along his remaining associates too.
Veerappan then asked searching questions on how to get out, what route to take, and how much it would all cost.
He was told that the journey up to Salem would be by an ambulance, and then a private car would take them to Rameswaram, for the onward journey by a speedboat to north Sri Lanka.
The whole trip would cost Rs 3 lakh, Velladurai said.
Eager to dodge the police dragnet, which was closing in on him, Veerappan decided to leave his Ponnagaram hideout on October 18 at 10 pm. The rest is history.