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Lack of support forced Veerappan to flee: Mirji

By K.V. Subramanya

BANGALORE, OCT. 20. The Inspector-General of Police, B.G. Jyothi Prakash Mirji, chief of the Karnataka Special Task Force (STF), said here on Wednesday that weakening of Veerappan's support base by the STF forced the brigand to move to Tamil Nadu and fall into the police trap.

Mr. Mirji, who was on a brief visit to Bangalore, told The Hindu that as part of the strategy worked out, the Karnataka STF weakened Veerappan in his strongholds such as M.M. Hills, Ramapura, and Gopinatham and made him move towards the forests in Tamil Nadu.

"We restricted Veerappan's relatives and sympathisers, who are in large numbers in these areas, from meeting or communicating with him," he said.

Mr. Mirji said the STF had played a vital part in the joint operation that culminated in Veerappan's death.

Eight strike parties, five from Tamil Nadu and three from Karnataka, had been formed to participate in "Operation Cocoon."

"We had stationed the eight teams at different points through which Veerappan could have travelled.

"He took the Paparapatti route on which the Tamil Nadu STF was lying in wait. As only one team can strike, the Tamil Nadu STF party fired at the gang," he said.

He emphasised that it was a joint operation that resulted in the brigand's death and the role played by the two forces could not be viewed in isolation.

Allegations refuted

Reacting to rumours and allegations that the police had killed Veerappan in a "fake encounter," Mr. Mirji said: "It is unfortunate that such allegations are being levelled against the police instead of appreciating their efforts.

"We wanted to catch him alive and produce him before the court."

On the future of the STF, he said the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police, Susheel N. Borkar, and the Home Secretary, Brahma Dutt, would take a decision after discussing the matter with the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh.

On Tuesday night, Mr. Borkar told The Hindu that the STF would not be disbanded immediately.

"The STF will be continued for some more time but with less strength. We want to be doubly sure that none of Veerappan's aides are in the forests," he had said.

`No need for STF'

Our Special Correspondent adds:

Mr. Mirji said there was no point in continuing the STF operations in the jungles of Sathyamangalam after the gunning down of Veerappan.

Mr. Mirji told presspersons after he called on the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, here today that it was for the Government to decide on the future of the STF. Asked about deploying the STF to deal with naxalities in the Malnad region, the Chief Minister said the Government would consider it after high-level discussions. The brigand's menace could not be compared to that of the naxalites, he added.

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